Post-Apocalyptic Plants

It’s said that cockroaches can live through the apocalypse!  Why can’t my garden be that resilient?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

When the mercury hits a new high, we humans can deal with it – we just stay indoors! But plants and animals are dying off as the climate changes. Are we going to be left with a barren wasteland?

Hopefully NOT, says Annabel Smith at the University of Queensland. Smith and colleagues studied the plantain – a plant species found all over the world. The researchers monitored the demographics of these cooking bananas at over fifty sites worldwide.

In addition to plant births and deaths, they studied the local environment and plant DNA. This yields information about the plant’s genetic diversity, which is what helps plants adapt to different environments.

Plants typically have higher genetic diversity in their native environment. But plantains had high genetic diversity EVERYWHERE they grew!

These results can help scientists understand how plants will adapt to a changing climate.

Now can science figure out why my INDOOR plants are all dying?

Author’s correction: These plantains are not the cooking bananas but rather the common lawn weed, Plantago lanceolata. We apologize for this error and regret any confusion it may have caused.