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How will seasonal clocks in wild and agricultural plants adapt to climate change?

Start: 2020

Shifts in the seasonal timing of flowering is a commonly observed effect of climate change. Flowering time is primarily controlled by temperature and daylength and, as a result of evolution, the use of these cues is often genetically adapted to the local climate. Will future climates render such evolved controls suboptimal and if so, what will evolution replace them with? As part of an ongoing BECC-collaboration, this Postdoc project will develop general theory for how selection drives responses of flowering time to changes in temperature and daylength, for both crops, structured via artificial selection for high yield, and for wild species, structured via intense competition. The theory will be used to assess the robustness of flowering strategies adapted to current climates to expected future climate change. The project focuses on annual plants which, due to their short generation times, are particularly likely to exhibit rapid evolutionary responses to environmental change. Annual plants furthermore include important crops, invasive weeds and pollen-allergy causing plants. By improving our understanding of flowering time adaptations in this group our findings may thus find applications in e.g. plant breeding to address food security and in predicting and managing invasive species in a changing climate.