High mountain plant communities are one of the groups most vulnerable to global change. This phenomenon could threaten even the species that inhabit the highest levels, such as the Saxifraga longifolia (king’s crown), an endemic plant of the Pyrenees with sophisticated mechanisms to adapt to environmental changes. This is one of the conclusions of a study published in the scientific journal Plant Physiology by experts Sergi Munné Bosch, Alba Cotado, Melanie Morales and Eva Fleta Soriano, from the Department of Evolutionary Biology, Ecology and Environmental Sciences of the University of Barcelona, and Maria B. Garcia and Jesús Villellas, from the Pyrenean Institute of Ecology (IPE-CSIC). How does the king’s crown respond to global change? The king’s crown ( S. longifolia) is a herbaceous and perennial plant,
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with abundant populations on cliffs Finland Email List and scree in the Pyrenees, and more sporadic in the Cantabrian massif, the Iberian system and the mountain ranges of the south and east of the Peninsula. This scientific work analyzes for the first time the physiological response and cellular protection mechanisms that S. longifolia uses to adapt to changes in mountain ecosystems. As pointed out by Professor Sergi Munné Bosch, first author of the work and head of the ANTIOX Research Group at the UB, this species may see its physiology and mortality rates affected by the effects of current global change: «If global change persists and it gets even worse over time, it will most likely endanger some plant species – with possible loss of biodiversity – and lead other species to move to live at higher altitudes. ‘ As described in the published work, and as noted by Melanie Morales, a
postdoctoral researcher in the group, “in S. longifolia populations that are found at higher altitudes (about 2,100 meters), levels of α-tocopherol increase, a compound that It is part of the vitamin E group. ‘ Α-Tocopherol protects the leaves from high solar radiation – which is characteristic of high mountain climates – and “helps the plant to protect itself from oxidative damage by reducing the levels of lipid oxidation in high mountain populations” . At the highest levels of these ecosystems, the populations show clonal growth, “a characteristic that has only been observed in the higher-altitude populations,” Morales details. «In addition, in alpine populations there is a lower recruitment rate and higher mortality of juvenile plants, so larger plants predominate. In this plant, mortality is not associated with size, as has been generally described in other species ”.