Computer theory cracks rainforest gene secrets

An innovative approach to studying genetics has provided new information about how Australia's dwindling remnants of rainforest will cope as the planet grows warmer due to climate change.

An innovative approach to studying genetics has provided new information about how Australia's dwindling remnants of rainforest will cope as the planet grows warmer due to climate change.

According to research undertaken at the UNSW Ecology and Evolution Research Centre in conjunction with the National Herbarium of NSW, indications might be found in the genes of the rainforest plant species that have endured.

The new study raises hope these species may be better equipped to handle the change than previously thought - and that some might even expand their ranges under favourable conditions.

Australia once boasted vast tracts of rich rainforests but, after millions of years of gradual drying, the continent has only a few pockets surviving.

These rainforests contain ancient lineages of plants, many unique to Australia, and a surprisingly high degree of biodiversity, according to the lead authors of the study, Dr Bill Sherwin and Dr Maurizio Rossetto.

Their report was published recently in the American Journal of Botany.

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Media contact: Bob Beale | 0411 705 435 | bbeale@unsw.edu.au