Quirks & Quarks

Trees survive the cold weather

Distantly related trees have the same cold weather plan
Mixed stands of sitka spruce, Norway spruce, lodgepole pine and siberian larch (Skogarpesi)

The study of two distantly related species of tree may help scientists understand how Pine and Spruce in western Canada deal with cold temperatures on a warming planet. Understanding how the Lodgepole pine and a variety of Spruce known as Interior spruce cope with unpredictable cold temperatures, including cold snaps, will help foresters plan the timing and location of planting these trees as the climate changes.  A new study by Dr. Sally Aitken, a professor in the Department of Forest and Conservation Science at UBC in Vancouver, has looked at the genetics of both species for answers.  Surprisingly, even though the trees last had a common ancestor 140 million years ago, Lodgepole pine and Interior spruce use the same genetic solution - known as convergent evolution - for surviving the cold.     

The lodgepole pine forest in Saskatchewan (Courtesy Adam Blake)

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