b'Carnegie Science|Fall 2019 9Predicting Plant Mutations Needed to Survive Climate ChangeCOLLABORATORS AND SUPPORT:Also participating in this study were Oliver Bossdorf, Hernn A. Burbano, Rasmus Nielsen, and a team of experimental researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology and the Technical University of Madrid. This research was funded by an EMBO Short Term Fellowship, an ERC Advanced Grant IMMUNEMESIS, and the Max Planck Society.Plant genetic diversity in Central Europe could collapse from temperature extremes and drought with climate change, according to a new paper in Nature led by Moises Exposito-Alonso, who joined Carnegie in September 2019, from the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology and U.C.-Berkeley. Because only a few individual species are already Researchers working during winter in Tbingen, Germany (top). The bottom aerial Moises Exposito-Alonso joinedadapted to extreme climatepicture shows the experimental site in Madrid, Spain.Carnegie in September 2019, conditions, the overall speciesImages courtesy of Moises Exposito-Alonso from the Max Planck Institute forgenetic diversity could be greatly Developmental Biology and U.C.-Berkeley.diminished, they said.On the basis of our calculations, up to the year 2050 we can Image courtesy Moises Exposito-Alonso The team from the Max Planckdetermine a significant change in the mutations that will be institute, University of Tbingen,needed to survive in Southern to Central Europe, Exposito-Technical University of Madrid, and U.C.-Berkeley analyzed variantsAlonso said.of the mustard plant Arabidopsis thaliana It is remarkable how much individuals from different parts commonly used for biological researchwhich were collected from more than 500of Europe differ in their ability to withstand future climate locations throughout Europe and grown in Spain and Germany underconditions, added Detlef Weigel, Director at the Max Planck low-rainfall conditions. This revealed how individual plantsInstitute, where the work was coordinated.responded to heat and drought. As precipitation decreases and temperatures rise, especially The investigators were interested in how the unique blend ofin so-called transition zones between the Mediterranean and genetic mutations allowed different individuals of the same speciesnorthern Europe, the teams predictions indicate that many of the to resist the conditions of the simulated climates. continents predominant plant species will not have the Some of these mutations could confer physiologicalcharacteristics to survive.advantages in a changing climate, explained Exposito-Alonso, theThese patterns might be shared across many plant species of papers first author. So, the primary goal of this study was to rankEurope. While genetic information for most species is still lacking, their importance for the future survival of the species, somethingthe rapid advance in modern genetic research methods allows we just learned how to do statistically. investigators to obtain this information for a rapidly increasing These data were combined with models that predict hownumber of species. With this information, it will be possible to temperatures and precipitation are expected to shift geographicallyimprove predictions of the geographic locations where a species in the next few decades to understand how plant geneticwould be most at risk of suffering from climate change.biodiversity will be affected.'