Mosaic

Did you know?

by Kurt Kleiner

If your shasta daisies are not doing as well this year as your neighbour’s, the problem might not be your gardening technique. Instead, it might depend on where your flowers came from.

According to Malcolm Campbell, professor of biology and vice-principal (research) at UTSC, even genetically identical plants can behave differently depending on their life histories. He obtained poplar clones from Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, then subjected half of them to drought and the other half to normal conditions. By analyzing the ribonucleic acid, or RNA—one of the macromolecules, along with DNA, essential for all known forms of life—produced by each poplar, Campbell and his colleagues demonstrated that trees from different parts of the country respond differently to lack of water despite being identical clones of one another.

“The findings were really quite stunning,” Campbell says. “Our results show that there is a form of molecular ‘memory’ in trees [wherein its] previous personal experience influences how it responds to the environment.”

Turns out that those troublesome shasta daisies may just be “remembering” tougher times.