September 30, 2013
Researchers Found Response Of How Plants Respond To The Changing Environment In Geological Time
Understanding the impact of environmental change on plant traits is an important issue in evolutionary biology. As the only direct evidence of past life, fossils provide important information on the interactions between plants and environmental change. After ten years' survey, Professor Zhou Zhekun's group from Kunming Institute of Botany has discovered more than ten well preserved Neogene plant fossil sites in southwestern China which are important to understand past climate and response of plants to the changing climate in this region. Their recent work, entitled "Evolution of stomatal and trichome density of the Quercus delavayi complex since the late Miocene", was published in CHINESE SCIENCE BULLETIN.2013, Vol 58(21).
Comparing closely related fossils from different geological periods is an efficient method to understand how plants respond to climatic change across a large scale. However, few studies have been carried out due to lack of a continuous fossil record. In their recent study, Prof. Zhou's group investigated detailed micro-morphology of a dominant element in Neogene fossil sites, Quercus delavayi complex (one oak species) to answer this question.
This research project was partially supported by a grant from the National Natural Science Foundation of China and a 973 grant from Department of Science and Technology of China. Knowledge of the past is crucial to understand the future. The researchers suggest the old subject 'Paleontology' can reveal long term evolution in the past which is hardly seen in 'Neontology' should receive more attention.
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