Data from: Two decades of evolutionary changes in Brassica rapa in response to fluctuations in precipitation and severe drought

Published on 2018-10-10T17:49:31Z (GMT) by
As climate changes at unprecedented rates, understanding population responses is a major challenge. Resurrection studies can provide crucial insights into the contemporary evolution of species to climate change. We used a seed collection of two Californian populations of the annual plant Brassica rapa made over two decades of dramatic precipitation fluctuations, including increasingly severe droughts. We compared flowering phenology, other drought response traits, and seed production among four generations, grown under drought and control conditions, to test for evolutionary change and to characterize the strength and direction of selection. Post-drought generations flowered earlier, with a reduced stem diameter, and lower water-use efficiency (WUE), while intervening wet seasons reversed these adaptations. There was selection for earlier flowering, which was adaptive, but delayed flowering after wet years resulted in reduced total seed mass, indicating a maladaptive response caused by brief wet periods. Furthermore, evolutionary changes and plastic responses often differed in magnitude between populations and drought periods, suggesting independent adaptive pathways. While B. rapa rapidly evolved a drought escape strategy, plant fitness was reduced in contemporary generations, suggesting that rapid shifts in flowering time may no longer keep up with the increasing severity of drought periods, especially when drought adaptation is slowed by occasional wet seasons.

Cite this collection

Hamann, Elena; E. Weis, Arthur; Franks, Steven J. (2018): Data from: Two decades of evolutionary changes in Brassica rapa in response to fluctuations in precipitation and severe drought. figshare. Collection.