From flower evo-devo to biomass geopolitics
Friday seminar by Ioan Negrutiu
The seminar has been inspired by research I performed on sex determination (XY system) and flower dimorphism in Silene species, but also on stem cell termination (determinacy) in the Arabidopsis flower and fruit. In both systems, developmental genetics and « backwards evolution » experiments revealed (1) a large morphological plasticity ranging from domestication mimicry to ancestral trait reconstruction and (2) the role resource reallocation strategies and developmental homeostasis play in making angiosperms the equivalent of both biomass and sex bombs. So what is a plant, what are flowering plants? Very likely sequentially modular heterochronic living beings. Their toolbox of evo-novelties and optimizations is acting as the matrix and engine of land ecosystem productivity, biodiversity, and resilience. Such robust ecosystems exhibit increasing ecological deficits (with biomass as an early marker) through overexploitation (forcings). On those lines I argue that the next 10 years are critical and therefore there is a need to more precisely measure and anticipate the extent of (agro)ecosystem state shifts produced by the general rush on natural resources and the global game of resources geopolitics.