Response to artificial drying until drought-induced death in different elevation populations of a high-mountain plant


  • Editor
    M. Günthardt-Goerg

A. García Fernández, Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, Departamento de Biología y Geología, Móstoles, Spain.


Climate change is imposing warmer and more arid conditions on high-mountain Mediterranean pastures. The severity of these conditions is more intense in lower elevation populations and may be critical for their survival. In this context, we asked whether local adaptation plays an important role in the response of these populations to climate change, and if so, what mechanisms are involved. Previous works, involving reciprocal sowings suggested the existence of local adaptation in lower elevation populations of Silene ciliata, a perennial representative of high-mountain Mediterranean pastures. To determine if this local advantage is due to better adaptation to more intense water stress conditions, an experiment was conducted in which S. ciliata plants from three populations located at different elevations (Low, Intermediate and High) were subjected to severe artificial water stress. Results showed that plants from the Low population had greater tolerance to water stress than plants from the High population in the earliest stages of water shortage. Furthermore, responses of proteins to specific antibodies related to drought were evaluated. Two representative late-embryogenesis abundant (LEA) proteins known to play a role in water stress tolerance were expressed throughout the drought treatment in plants from the three populations, with some pattern differences among individuals within populations. This study detected slight evidence of local adaptation to water stress in populations from different elevations.