Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
AgriGenomics
Scientific Community
 
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article
  News
Return

Invasive Weeds Could Shed Light on Climate-Coping

Published: Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Last Updated: Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Bookmark and Share
In the race to adapt to climate change, weeds may be the winners.

Understanding their well-honed coping mechanisms could inform strategies for ecological management, says a Cornell crop and soil researcher.

While other species are expected to suffer from environmental fluctuations, changes in temperature may help invasive weeds expand their ranges. Many weeds are capable of relatively rapid genetic change as well, further enhancing their ability to colonize new areas.

The findings stem from the study, "Predicting Weed Invasion in Canada Under Climate Change: Evaluating Evolutionary Potential," published in the Canadian Journal of Plant Science (92:2012) by weed ecologist Antonio DiTommaso, associate professor of crop and soil sciences and the Richard C. Call, Director of Agricultural Sciences, and biologist David Clements of Trinity Western University.

"The standard modeling approach treats plants like static entities," DiTommaso said. "But changes in weed distributions may also reflect evolutionary change in the plants themselves. We've already seen them change in response to human influences such as farming practices."

For many years, scientists thought weeds would not develop herbicide resistance on a comparable scale to the insecticide resistance that emerged in the 1950s and 1960s; now, herbicide resistance is widespread, showing weeds have a strong potential to evolve in the presence of intense selection pressure, DiTommaso said.

In the study, the researchers looked at four different weed species -- Himalayan balsam, velvetleaf, Japanese knotweed and johnsongrass -- that were expanding their ranges northward within North America. They observed evidence for potential evolutionary responses to climate change in each species, despite population genetic differences.

DiTommaso said that the study's findings will help address the spread of weeds and the economic and ecological damage it could cause. He's also intrigued by what weeds can teach us about inhabiting and restoring degraded areas.

"Most people define weeds simply as plants out of place, but from an ecological point of view they're just especially good at colonizing disturbed sites and staying abundant under repeated disturbance," he said. "Ecologically, they're just survivors."

DiTommaso said weeds are also are essential to agriculture and human well-being, protecting and restoring the soil and providing surgery when areas are torn up for fields, burned or otherwise altered.

"Weeds are pioneers that initiate a process that can eventually restore whatever forest, savanna, prairie or other ecosystem was native there," he said.

Still, weeds are the most costly category of agricultural pests and cause more yield loss worldwide than insect pests, crop pathogens or warm-blooded pests.

"No year goes by when you don't have to deal with them -- they're like taxes or death. Diseases and pests can come in one year and go the next, but weeds are constant," he said.

DiTommaso also pointed out that weeds are considered the main production constraint for the rapidly expanding organic agricultural sector.

"We need to ... develop and implement safe, effective and sustainable strategies for dealing with [weeds]. But we should also consider what it is that allows these wild plants to be so resilient," he said.

"Perhaps some of the strategies that make them troublesome could help us better design cropping systems, especially in light of predicted climate change."


Further Information
Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 2,500+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 3,700+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters


Sign In



Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into TechnologyNetworks.com you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

$5.5M NSF Grant Aims to Improve Rice Crops with Genome Editing
Researchers to precisely target, cut, remove and replace DNA in a living cell to improve rice.
Friday, May 08, 2015
Genetics Used to Improve Plants for Bioenergy
An upcoming genetics investigation into the symbiotic association between soil fungi and feedstock plants for bioenergy production could lead to more efficient uptake of nutrients, which would help limit the need for expensive and polluting fertilizers.
Thursday, August 28, 2014
Pest Attacks Can Lead to Bigger Crop Yields
New project receive three-year funding of $498,000 from USDA.
Thursday, June 26, 2014
Algal Genes May Boost Efficiency, Yield in Staple Crops
New research has taken a step toward employing genes from blue-green algae to improve staple crop photosynthesis.
Wednesday, May 21, 2014
Study to Focus on Rice Genes, Yield and Climate
Cornell researchers received a $600,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to study relationships among rice genetics, crop yields and climate.
Thursday, May 01, 2014
New Alfalfa Variety Resists Ravenous Local Pest
The new variety has some resistance against the alfalfa snout beetle which has ravaged alfalfa fields.
Monday, April 28, 2014
Predators Delay Pest Resistance to Bt Crops
Crops genetically modified with the bacterium Bt(Bacillus thuringiensis) produce proteins that kill pest insects.
Monday, March 10, 2014
Shark, Human Proteins are Surprisingly Similar
Despite widespread fascination with sharks, the world’s oldest ocean predators have long been a genetic mystery.
Friday, December 06, 2013
Surprises Discovered in Decoded Kiwifruit Genome
DNA sequence of the kiwifruit has many genetic similarities between its 39,040 genes and other plant species, including potatoes and tomatoes.
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Produce Perfect: Biotech Sweet Corn goes Unblemished
With the kernel-loving earworm, producing unblemished ears of sweet corn is difficult.
Monday, October 14, 2013
New Micro Water Sensor Can Aid Growers
Crop growers, wine grape and other fruit growers, food processors and even concrete makers all benefit from water sensors for accurate, steady and numerous moisture readings.
Monday, October 14, 2013
Partnership Homes in on Regenerative Medicine
Scientists are to advance healing techniques and technologies for animals and humans.
Friday, October 04, 2013
Using Genes to Rescue Animal and Plants from Extinction
With estimates of losing 15 to 40 percent of the world’s species over the next four decades researchers whether science should employ genetic engineering to the rescue.
Friday, September 27, 2013
Senator to Tout Cornell Food Safety, Dairy Expertise to Feds
Cornell University is positioned to be a national center of excellence in dairy and food safety.
Monday, September 09, 2013
'Fountain of Youth’ for Leaves Discovered
A team has identified an enzymatic fountain of youth that slows the process of leaf death.
Friday, August 23, 2013
Scientific News
Marijuana Genome Unraveled
A study by Canadian researchers is providing a clearer picture of the evolutionary history and genetic organization of cannabis, a step that could have agricultural, medical and legal implications for this valuable crop.
Grape Waste Could Make Competitive Biofuel
The solid waste left over from wine-making could make a competitive biofuel, University of Adelaide researchers have found.
Accelerating Forage Breeding to Boost Livestock Productivity
International expert skill-sets in genomics and bioinformatics enhance our capacity to breed improved forages for Africa.
Firefly Protein Enables Visualization of Roots in Soil
A new imaging tool from a team led by Carnegie’s José Dinneny allows researchers to study the dynamic growth of root systems in soil, and to uncover the molecular signaling pathways that control such growth.
So Long, Snout
Research helps answer how birds got their beaks.
The Tree of Life — More Like A Bush
New species evolve whenever a lineage splits off into several. Because of this, the kinship between species is often described in terms of a ‘tree of life’, where every branch constitutes a species.
Algae Nutrient Recycling is a Triple Win
Sandia method cheaper, greener and cuts competition for fertilizer.
Non-Transgenic Rapeseed Product Launched For Chinese Market
Cibus and Rotam have announced a new agreement to cooperate in the development of herbicide-tolerant rapeseed in China.
TGAC Leads Development to Diminish Threat to Vietnam’s Most Important Crop
Advanced bioinformatics capabilities for next-generation rice genomics in Vietnam to aid precision breeding.
BESC Creates Microbe That Bolsters Isobutanol Production
Another barrier to commercially viable biofuels from sources other than corn has fallen with the engineering of a microbe that improves isobutanol yields by a factor of 10.
Skyscraper Banner

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
 
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
2,500+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
3,700+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FREE!