The mystery of the white flower farm
By James MathersIt is a scene that may seem far fetched: a tiny patch of green and white grass dotted with rows of flowers.
But it is the scene of a gene flow experiment.
It is one of dozens of gene flows occurring across the world as people and organisations race to create the next generation of the world’s most important species, the white-fleshed flower.
“The white flower is one that, as it grows, is one the most important plant species in the world, so you want to be a part of that,” says Andrew Smith, a senior scientist at the Botanic Gardens of NSW.
The plant’s diversity has been one of the reasons for the diversity of its genetic diversity.
It has an amazing ability to adapt to changing conditions, including the drought and climate changes that are affecting the region, he says.
“It’s an extremely diverse plant that’s not really well-suited for a particular place, but it’s good at adapting to what is happening around it.”
But there are many hurdles that need to be overcome before the white flowers can thrive in Australia, including growing conditions and climate change.
“What we’re doing right now is really doing the most difficult thing, to make sure that we get all the different genes into the right places,” says Smith.
“But it’s not as easy as it seems.
We’re seeing the changes in climate, we’re seeing that it’s drying out and there’s a lot of different problems that we need to look at.”
But what’s the future of the flower?
“The best way of putting it is that we are starting to see a trend,” says Dr Andrew Jones, a genetics expert at the University of Adelaide.
“We’ve seen some pretty big changes, like the breeding of Asian bees and some other plants that are being cultivated.”
But he cautions that there are a number of challenges to the white rose as it matures and changes to the climate.
“There are a few species that are very sensitive to different weather conditions,” he says, “and the plants have to adapt as well, to different things like temperature changes, changes in moisture, so they’re going to be in the same position, or the same environment, at some point in the future.”
The white rose is a beautiful plant, and its diversity and ability to withstand extreme weather and drought is a reason why it is such a popular plant.
But with the arrival of climate change, there is also a new challenge to its success.
The flower has been adapted to cope with a range of climate changes, including rising temperatures and the drying out of the plant, as well as changing soil and soil structure.
But scientists are also finding that the flower is getting more drought tolerant.
“This has been the most striking thing to me in the whole of the literature, because it’s one of those species that’s been so resilient to climate change,” says Jones.
“So if we look at the other species that have been adapted over the years, we’ve seen that the more drought they’ve faced, the more they’ve responded to it, which has been surprising.”
Jones says that while the white roses may be adapted to some climate changes now, they are not ready to go anywhere.
“I think the plant is probably ready to adapt but it depends on how many different genes are in the plant,” he explains.
“If you look at some of the other plants, they’re probably going to adapt pretty well.”
The Botanic Garden of NSW is working with scientists and conservationists to get the white flowering plant ready for the next stage of the experiment.
They are trying to find a way to breed and breed again with other white roses in the area.
“Once we’ve got it out in the wild, and the breeding starts and we can find out how they respond to climate changes,” says Mather, the Botanical Gardens’ director.
“Then hopefully, we’ll be able to breed them in Australia again and start breeding them again.”
And then hopefully, when the next climate event comes along, we can breed them again.
“Topics:genetics,environment,gardening,world-politics,biotech-and-science,fruits,wildlife,gardener-training,environmental-impact,drought,climate-change,nsw,australiaFirst posted February 16, 2019 06:53:36Contact James Muth