If you were to take a seed and zap it into the future to see how it will respond to climate change, how realistic might that prediction be? After all, seeds that actually grow in the future will have gone through generations of genetic changes and adaptations that these “time traveling” seeds don’t experience.
Scientists from the University of California, Davis, and the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom examine that question in a study published in the journal Global Change Biology. They found that specialized outdoor laboratories more closely resemble what happens in nature than was previously realized.
Scientists have been investigating how plants are likely to respond to future climate change at outdoor facilities called Free Air CO2 Enrichment, or FACE, where fields of crops are blasted with air containing increased amounts of carbon dioxide.
The study authors compared plant responses at FACE facilities with plant responses across 11 naturally occurring, high-CO2 springs. A tower measures the concentration of carbon dioxide in a spring in Italy containing naturally occurring high levels of carbon dioxide. (University of Southampton)