Contemporary climate change is exposing plant populations to novel combinations of temperatures, drought stress, [CO2] and other abiotic and biotic conditions. These changes are rapidly disrupting the evolutionary dynamics of plants. Despite the multifactorial nature of climate change, most studies typically manipulate only one climatic factor. In this opinion piece, we seek to explore how climate change factors interact with each other and with biotic pressures to alter evolutionary processes. We first explore the ramifications of climate change for key life history stages (germination, growth and reproduction). We then examine how mating system variation influences population persistence under rapid environmental change and propose that mixed mating could be advantageous in future climates. Furthermore, we discuss how spatial and temporal mismatches between plants and their mutualists and antagonists could promote or constrain adaptive responses to climate change. For example, plant-virus interactions vary from highly pathogenic to mildly facilitative, and are partly mediated by temperature, moisture availability and [CO2]. Will host plants exposed to novel, stressful abiotic conditions be more susceptible to viral pathogens? Finally, we propose novel experimental approaches that could illuminate how plants will cope with unprecedented global change, such as resurrection studies combined with experimental evolution, genomics or epigenetics.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.