Even trees can suffer jetlag

Last Updated: Thursday, March 29, 2012 - 12:32

Wellington: Trees have biological clocks and can be affected by jetlag just as humans, a new study has revealed.

Researchers at the University of Western Sydney (UWS) say that jetlag could operate at an ecosystem level in plants and may hold clues to how trees store carbon.

The internal biological clock that’s disrupted when humans travel across time zones - causing jetlag - could regulate plant photosynthesis, says Dr Victor Resco de Dios, the lead author of the study Global Change Biology.

“If you could move a whole forest from Sydney to Barcelona all of the trees - in fact the whole ecosystem - would likely have the plant equivalent of jetlag,” Stuff.co.nz quoted Dr Resco de Dios, from UWS’s Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment, as saying.

While conceding few forests are moved across international time zones, he said the research could be useful in an era of tackling climate change.

Using observational data collected from forests around the world, Dr Resco de Dios’ team tested whether a change in environmental conditions affected the amount of carbon locked away by plants.

“The research results provide a much better understanding of ecosystem function and its capacity to store carbon which is essential in an era of climate change and carbon accounting,” he added.

The research is hoped to provide a greater understanding of the biological clocks of trees and whether this knowledge could improve the accuracy of carbon exchange models in the future.


First Published: Thursday, March 29, 2012 - 12:32

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