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Crop Biotech Update

Climate Change Allows Invasive Weed to Outcompete Local Species

June 3, 2011

The yellow starthistle, a very obnoxious weed in cattle grass farms, is expected to proliferate as the global climate change. Climate change is expected to increase carbon dioxide, precipitation, nitrogen and temperature, and these are the optimum conditions for the yellow starthistle to thrive. In a paper published by Jeff Dukes, a Purdue University Professor of forestry and natural resources and the study's lead author in the online edition of the journal Ecological Applications, reported that the weed in some cases grew to six times its normal size, while the other grassland species remained relatively unchanged.

"The rest of the grassland didn't respond much to changes in conditions except nitrogen," said Dukes. "We're likely to see these carbon dioxide concentrations in the second half of this century. Our results suggest that yellow starthistle will be a very happy camper in the coming decades."

This problem is currently being looked at by land managers and crop growers as a major problem in the coming decades, thus, better controls should be developed to address invasive species that could cause significant damage to pasture, cropland and wildlands such as starthistle.

For details of the news, see http://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/research/2011/110531DukesStarthistle.html.