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The Impact of Warming on the Flowering of Crop and Wild Plants
Hedhly, A. 2011. Sensitivity of flowering plant gametophytes to temperature fluctuations. Environmental and Experimental Botany 74: 9-16.

The author writes that "research on plant responses to temperature stress is receiving increased interest due to the growing awareness about global warming," while noting that "high and low temperature stresses help establish the narrow geographic distribution of some cultivated plants," as well as "the limited geographic extension of some other economically nutritionally important species."

What was done
To draw attention to, and to cast more light upon, the significance of this subject, Hedhly reviews what is known about the effects of low and high temperature stresses during the flowering phases of such plants, based on the findings of 33 previously published reports pertaining to 19 different flowering plant species.

What was learned
Very briefly, the key finding of Hedhly's review is that "genetic variation does exist in reproductive behavior under temperature fluctuations."

What it means
Hedhly notes that "this genetic diversity must be preserved and characterized in further detail to understand how plants naturally cope with changing environmental conditions, which will, undoubtedly, help us to design better strategies to face current and future challenging temperature fluctuations." However, he states that "unfortunately, the genetic variation registered in cultivated plants is suffering erosion, by the introduction and monoculture of 'improved' varieties," and he says that "an effort to stop this loss of potentially interesting germplasm is of utmost urgency." Moreover, he writes that "the same conservation efforts should be applied to natural populations, where plant adaptation to environmental fluctuations depends largely on genetic diversity (Jump et al., 2009)," for he notes that "whether cultivated or not, species and genotypes that developed tolerance and/or avoidance strategies to temperature stress are, indeed, very interesting genetic reservoirs of potential temperature-tolerance genes," the characterization of which "might increase our understanding of how plants naturally cope with fluctuating environmental conditions," which knowledge should enable us "to design target-oriented conservation strategies and efficient plant breeding programs under the current scenario of global climate change."

Jump, A.S., Marchant, R. and Penuelas, J. 2009. Environmental change and the option value of genetic diversity. Trends in Plant Science 14: 51-58.

Reviewed 4 April 2012