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Sea temperature rise causes ‘Posidonia oceanica’ seagrass flowering

The rise of ocean temperatures causes the flowering of Posidonia oceanica seagrass in the Mediterranean –an important adaptive benefit to survive in a future warmer ocean- according to the study published by the journal Marine Pollution Bulletin, by a team with the participation of the experts Javier Romero, Marta Pérez and Yaiza Ontoria, from the Department of Evolutionary Biology, Ecology and Environmental Sciences and the Biodiversity Research Institute of the UB (IRBio).

In the study, marine plants from the Catalan coast seabeds were put under thermal stress in the laboratory (similar to the one caused by heatwaves in the marine environment, which are more common in the Mediterranean coast due the climate change). At the end of the experiment, carried out in the Murcia Oceanographic Center laboratories (IEO), an important part of the plants that had been warmed up had flowered, while those under a standard temperature did not develop any inflorescence.      

These innovative results prove that temperature is a primary factor able to alter the reproductive behaviour and cause flowering in this marine plant. It also verifies the relation between the observations of this species’ flowering and the heatwaves, described in previous studies but only in a correlational way.

According to the lecturer Javier Romero (UB-IRBio), “the deeper we get into the study of the behaviour of living beings under global warming, the more we realize about the complexity of their responses”. Regarding the Posidonia, flowering induction due thermal stress involves an increase of genetic diversity, and therefore, a larger resilience. “However –says the expert-, considering the slow rhythm of its growth, colonization and spreading, and the pace of global warming, this turns into a kind of race, with an uncertain result”.

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