Synopses & Reviews
The current climatic changes mean increasing environmental stress on plants: gaseous pollutants such as carbon dioxide, sulphur dioxide, ozone and oxides of nitrogen, together with the impacts of flooding and submergence, drought and cold. The physiological, biochemical and molecular biological bases of injury to plants and their adaptations to this stress are discussed in this volume. The importance of the combined effects of more than one type of stress is emphasized, e.g. increased ultraviolet (UVB) radiation exacerbating injury from drought or offsetting beneficial effects of increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide. The prospects for improving tolerance to environmental stress by genetic engineering are assessed and some examples of recent progress described.
Books dealing with climatic change are commonplace, as are those concerned with effects of environmental stresses on plants. The present volume distinguishes itself from earlier publications by highlighting several interrelated environmental stresses that are changing in intensity as the climate warms in response to the accumulation of 'greenhouse' gases. The stresses examined at the NATO Advanced Research Workshop upon which this book is based include atmospheric pollutants, flooding and sub mergence, drought and cold. In future, successful farming or landscape management will ultimately depend on strategies that offset the effects of these and other environmental constraints, while exploiting more favourable features. However, the to predicted speed of climate change may exceed the rate at which new approaches farming, forestry, landscape management and genetic conservation can be developed through experience and retroactive response. The alternative is to anticipate future needs and thus identify appropriate management and legislative strategies by research and discussion. The contents of this volume contribute to these vital processes, upon which the productivity of agroecosystems and conservation of natural ecosystems may increasingly depend. Those with any lingering doubts concerning the gravity of the likely future situation are especially encouraged to read the opening chapter. For convenience, chapters discussing pollution, flooding, drought and cold are grouped in separate sections. However, many authors have taken care to emphasise that interactions between the changing combinations of stresses pose particular problems for plants and plant communities."