Environmental change and the option value of genetic diversity


Jump A, Marchant R & Penuelas J (2009) Environmental change and the option value of genetic diversity. Trends in Plant Science, 14 (1), pp. 51-58.

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.

Genetic diversity; Climate change; Environmental change; Global environmental change; Plant diversity; Plants Variation; Nature Effect of human beings on; Plant populations

Trends in Plant Science: Volume 14, Issue 1

Publication date31/01/2009