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Environmental change and the option value of genetic diversity

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JournalTRENDS IN PLANT SCIENCE
DatePublished - Jan 2009
Issue number1
Volume14
Number of pages8
Pages (from-to)51-58
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Rapid anthropogenic environmental change is altering selection pressures on natural plant populations. However, it is difficult to predict easily the novel selection pressures to which populations will be exposed. There is heavy reliance on plant genetic diversity for future crop security in agriculture and industry, but the implications of genetic diversity for natural populations receives less attention. Here, we examine the links between the genetic diversity of natural populations and aspects of plant performance and fitness. We argue that accumulating evidence demonstrates the future benefit or' option value' of genetic diversity within natural populations when subject to anthropogenic environmental changes. Consequently, the loss of that diversity will hinder their ability to adapt to changing environments and is, therefore, of serious concern.

    Research areas

  • RAPID CLIMATE-CHANGE, POPULATION-SIZE, HETEROZYGOTE ADVANTAGE, HABITAT FRAGMENTATION, GENOTYPIC DIVERSITY, NATURAL-POPULATIONS, ADAPTIVE EVOLUTION, LOCAL ADAPTATION, FOOD SECURITY, GENOME SCANS

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