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Size of grass blades offers better understanding of their vulnerability to climate change


One-third of the Earth’s surface is covered by more than 11,000 grass species—including crops like wheat, corn, rice and sugar cane that account for the bulk of the world’s agricultural food production and important biofuels. But grass is so common that few people realize how diverse and important it really is.

Research published today in the journal Nature provides insights that scientists could use not only to improve crop design but also to more accurately model the effects of climate change.

It also offers new clues that could help scientists use leaf fossils to better interpret the climate of the ancient past.

The study’s senior author is Lawren Sack, a UCLA professor of ecology and evolutionary biology and one of the world’s most influential scientific researchers.

The research determined that grass with narrow leaves and high numbers of veins should be better able to withstand the drier conditions expected in the future. That finding should enable scientists to better predict grass species ‘ ability to tolerate cold […]

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