Abstract Detail

Life without water: evolution and adaptation of xeric plants

Heyduk, Karolina [1], Grace, Olwen [2], McKain, Michael [3].

Life without water: evolution and adaptation of xeric plants.

Abstract: Deserts and drylands cover 40% of all land on the planet and are expected to increase in area in the coming century. At the same time, some unique desert floras adapted to cooler climates - such as the high deserts of the Colorado Plateau - are likely to face extinction as species fail to cope with warming temperatures. The natural biodiversity in these ecosystems is immense, owing largely to the ability of many plant species to survive in some of the harshest conditions. Desert plants have a multitude of ways in which they have adapted to xeric conditions, including the use of alternate photosynthetic pathways, strategies to either avoid or tolerate drought, anatomical traits, and life history traits that allow for their survival. The rich cultural importance of desert species across the globe has implications for their future value and conservation. Charismatic desert flora have attracted scientific endeavours for decades, and the emerging feasibility of next generation sequencing in non-model systems has pushed research on desert species into the genomics era. In this symposium, we hope to highlight, broadly, the diverse ways researchers are tackling questions of desert flora evolution and conservation. We include researchers working to understand extant diversity with phylogenomics, as well as those thinking about future ecosystem restoration. We also highlight the integration of genomics with physiology, as well as the ethnobotanical history of desert species. Our invited speakers cover a range of career stages, diversity in gender, institution, and country, and will undoubtedly serve to reinvigorate future research into our desert floras. Relevance: The location for Botany 2019 in the desert southwest, along with the theme of “Desert Seas”, is an excellent fit for our proposed symposium. Deserts capture the public imagination but are often overlooked by specialists, who favour more diverse tropical ecosystems. We want to bring attention to current research on desert plants, and have selected speakers to cover a breadth of topics including plant physiology, genomics, phylogenomics, and ethnobotany. We think the diversity of topics and speakers will prove popular at Botany 2019, and will inspire the next generation of botanists to consider desert floras for their research.

1 - Yale University, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, 165 Prospect Street, New Haven, CT, 06520, United States
2 - Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, TW9 3AE, UK
3 - University Of Alabama, 411 Mary Harmon Bryant Hall, Tuscaloosa, AL, 35487, United States


Presentation Type: Symposium Presentation
Abstract ID:26
Candidate for Awards:None

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