How Plants Can Survive Climate Change

With climatic change plants are now in real danger of facing increased and unusual temperatures in the near future. But there seems to be hope, with the discovery that certain plants could adapt to climates by activating and deactivating certain genes that better preserve them in such conditions.


The ability to activate and deactivate genes depending on climatic conditions is under the field of study called Epigenetics. Epigenetics is the study of chemical markers that bring about temporary genetic changes as a result of external factors.

What causes activating or deactivating of genes?

The activation and deactivation of genes by plants take place under certain conditions of stress. In drought conditions for instance, a plant may have to adapt to the limited available water.

Epigenetics unlike the genetic adaptation we already know takes place very fast; as evidenced in the study of A. thaliana that can produce a new generation every eight weeks.


The significance of diversity in genes during climatic change

The study of Epigenetics and gene diversity preserve seeds with desirable qualities. Qualities that enhance the survival of the plant in extreme climate conditions will now be readily available.

What this means is that scientists will no more have to go to the wild in search of seeds with the ability to withstand heat, drought or change in climatic conditions. Epigenetic variations will now be available in genetic labs.

Although this research is still in its infancy, it still promises to reveal another interesting aspect of plant breeding.

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