Arabidopsis thaliana on the move!

New research from the University of British Columbia suggests evolution is a driving mechanism behind plant migration, and that scientists may be underestimating how quickly species can move.

The study, published today in the journal Science, builds on previous research that has shown some plants and animals are moving farther north or to higher altitudes in an effort to escape rising global average temperatures due to climate change.

We know from previous research that evolution might play a role in how fast a species can move across a region or continent, said Jennifer Williams, the study’s lead author and an assistant professor in UBC’s department of geography.

“But what our study suggests is that evolution is not only a factor in movement, but that it can, in fact, accelerate the spread, and can do so predictably.”

For the study, researchers used a small flowering plant (Arabidopsis thaliana), a common model organism in plant biology, to test the role of evolution in plant migration. The findings suggest that evolution accelerates the speed of migration, said Williams.

Science Daily, 28 Jul 2016