Mother knows best—even if Mom is a plant. A common flowering plant, Arabidopsis, hands down “memories” of recent temperatures to its seeds to prepare them for incoming spring weather conditions, a new study shows.
In an experiment by crop geneticists in Norwich, England, Arabidopsis individuals exposed to warmer temperatures produced seeds that sprouted more quickly than plants exposed to cooler temperatures—even if the warmer temperatures had occurred several weeks before the parents made the seeds.
Steven Penfield, a geneticist at John Innes and a co-author of the study, published in theProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, notes that the finding has attracted interest from scientists and agricultural companies alike. As climate change shifts the timing of germination for many botanical species, his team’s work suggests that modifying the genes involved in sensing the seasons could change when seeds sprout regardless of the weather outside.
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