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Predicting adaptive evolution under elevated atmospheric CO2 in the perennial grass Bromus erectus


Steinger, T; Stephan, A; Schmid, B (2007). Predicting adaptive evolution under elevated atmospheric CO2 in the perennial grass Bromus erectus. Global Change Biology, 13(5):1028-1039.

Abstract

Increasing concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere are likely to affect the ecological dynamics of plant populations and communities worldwide, yet little is known about potential evolutionary consequences of high CO2. We employed a quantitative genetic framework to examine how the expression of genetic variation and covariation in fitness-related traits, and thus, the evolutionary potential of a species, is influenced by CO2. In two field experiments, genotypes of the dominant grassland perennial Bromus erectus were grown for several years in plots maintained at present-day or at elevated CO2 levels. Under noncompetitive conditions (experiment 1), elevated CO2 had little impact on plant survival, growth, and reproduction. Under competitive conditions in plots with diverse plant communities (experiment 2), performance of B. erectus was reduced by elevated CO2. This suggests that the effect of CO2 was largely indirect, intensifying competitive interactions. Elevated CO2 had significant effects on the expression of genetic variation in both the competitive and noncompetitive environment, but the effects were in opposite direction. Heritability of plant size was generally higher at elevated than at ambient CO2 in the noncompetitive environment, but lower in the competitive environment. Selection analysis revealed a positive genotypic selection differential for plant size at ambient CO2, indicating selection favoring genotypes with high growth rate. At elevated CO2, the corresponding selection differential was nonsignificant and slightly negative. This suggests that elevated CO2 is unlikely to stimulate the evolution of high biomass productivity in this species.

Increasing concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere are likely to affect the ecological dynamics of plant populations and communities worldwide, yet little is known about potential evolutionary consequences of high CO2. We employed a quantitative genetic framework to examine how the expression of genetic variation and covariation in fitness-related traits, and thus, the evolutionary potential of a species, is influenced by CO2. In two field experiments, genotypes of the dominant grassland perennial Bromus erectus were grown for several years in plots maintained at present-day or at elevated CO2 levels. Under noncompetitive conditions (experiment 1), elevated CO2 had little impact on plant survival, growth, and reproduction. Under competitive conditions in plots with diverse plant communities (experiment 2), performance of B. erectus was reduced by elevated CO2. This suggests that the effect of CO2 was largely indirect, intensifying competitive interactions. Elevated CO2 had significant effects on the expression of genetic variation in both the competitive and noncompetitive environment, but the effects were in opposite direction. Heritability of plant size was generally higher at elevated than at ambient CO2 in the noncompetitive environment, but lower in the competitive environment. Selection analysis revealed a positive genotypic selection differential for plant size at ambient CO2, indicating selection favoring genotypes with high growth rate. At elevated CO2, the corresponding selection differential was nonsignificant and slightly negative. This suggests that elevated CO2 is unlikely to stimulate the evolution of high biomass productivity in this species.

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15 citations in Web of Science®
16 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
590 Animals (Zoology)
Uncontrolled Keywords:adaptation, competition, elevated CO2, global change, grassland, quantitative genetics
Language:English
Date:May 2007
Deposited On:11 Feb 2008 12:27
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 12:21
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell
ISSN:1354-1013
Publisher DOI:10.1111/j.1365-2486.2007.01328.x

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