Climate warming could cause a significant reduction in the flowering period of some common plants, reports a paper published in Nature Communications. The research uses gene expression analysis to make this forecast and suggests that this method may be useful in predicting the unexplored risks of climate change.
Under controlled laboratory conditions, Akiko Satake and colleagues modelled regulatory dynamics of key flowering time genes in Arabidopsis and developed a method for forecasting the effects of climate on these life cycle events. They then applied the model to populations of Arabidopsis in two common garden areas in Japan and show that duration of flowering decreases gradually with warming. The team go on to suggest that a temperature increase of 4.5-5.3°C may completely prevent this perennial plant from flowering.
As this model accurately reproduced seasonal changes in gene expression and predicted the timing of floral initiation, along with the length of flowering period, in response to climate warming, the authors suggest that it could be utilised in systematic conservation planning. They also propose that it has the potential to be extended to model gene expression and response to climatic changes in certain crop species.