Widespread common weed may cause allergic reactions on hay fever sufferers: Aussie-led study

Source: Xinhua| 2018-11-30 12:32:04|Editor: Yamei
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SYDNEY, Nov. 30 (Xinhua) -- The common ragweed plant has been able to invade a wide range of climatic regions across the globe, an adaptation that also indicates how climate change is likely to select for larger plants with greater pollen production, according to latest Australian-led research.

The findings could in turn have major implications for people suffering from hay fever, Monash University said in a statement about its study on Friday.

According to the research, researchers studied the common weed and uncovered an unprecedented high capacity of the plant to mount rapid and adaptive genetic changes to their DNA sequence that enables them to tolerate and cope with new environments.

"These genetic changes in ragweed were consistent with traits evolving in parallel across multiple areas of the globe in response to the local environment," the study's senior author Dr. Kathryn Hodgins said.

The findings could be bad news for sufferers of hay fever because ragweed is noxious, spreading out of control may cause the allergic reactions to pollen at significant cost, according to the researchers.

"The capacity to rapidly adapt might be a key ingredient for invasive success in many species, especially those, like ragweed, which have a short generation time and high levels of genetic variation within populations," senior author said.

"Given our results, climate change is likely to select for larger plants with greater pollen production, which is going to be problematic for people suffering from hay fever," the study's lead author Lotte van Boheemen said.

The findings were published in the scientific journal New Phytologist.