Field mustard plants beat the rush!

Field mustard plants have evolved in response to an extreme, four-year-long drought in southern California, which some sources have linked to global warming.

These plants flower and produce seeds near the end of the rainy season, but when the rainy season is cut short by a drought, late blooming plants may wither and die before they can produce seeds.

This form of natural selection favors early bloomers. Is just four years enough time to see the results of this evolutionary shift?

Researchers compared plants grown from wild seeds collected before and after the drought and found that post-drought plants had evolved to flower much earlier — sometimes by as much as 10 days!

Understanding Evolution, Jul 2008