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Available from: PubMed Central
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ABSTRACT: Microscopic turgor-operated gas valves on leaf surfaces-stomata-facilitate gas exchange between the plant and the atmosphere, and respond to multiple environmental and endogenous cues. Collectively, stomatal activities affect everything from the productivity of forests, grasslands and crops to biophysical feedbacks between land surface vegetation and climate. In 1976, plant physiologist Paul Jarvis reported an empirical model describing stomatal responses to key environmental and plant conditions that predicted the flux of water vapour from leaves into the surrounding atmosphere. Subsequent theoretical advances, building on this earlier approach, established the current paradigm for capturing the physiological behaviour of stomata that became incorporated into sophisticated models of land carbon cycling. However, these models struggle to accurately predict observed trends in the physiological responses of Northern Hemisphere forests to recent atmospheric CO2 increases, highlighting the need for improved representation of the role of stomata in regulating forest-climate interactions. Bridging this gap between observations and theory as atmospheric CO2 rises and climate change accelerates creates challenging opportunities for the next generation of physiologists to advance planetary ecology and climate science. This commentary was written to celebrate the 350th anniversary of the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society.
Available from: Nicola Hemmings
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ABSTRACT: Sperm competition, in which the ejaculates of multiple males compete to fertilize a female's ova, results in strong selection on sperm traits. Although sperm size and swimming velocity are known to independently affect fertilization success in certain species, exploring the relationship between sperm length, swimming velocity and fertilization success still remains a challenge. Here, we use the zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata), where sperm size influences sperm swimming velocity, to determine the effect of sperm total length on fertilization success. Sperm competition experiments, in which pairs of males whose sperm differed only in length and swimming speed, revealed that males producing long sperm were more successful in terms of (i) the number of sperm reaching the ova and (ii) fertilizing those ova. Our results reveal that although sperm length is the main factor determining the outcome of sperm competition, complex interactions between male and female reproductive traits may also be important. The mechanisms underlying these interactions are poorly understood, but we suggest that differences in sperm storage and utilization by females may contribute to the outcome of sperm competition.
Available from: Roland Schwarzenbacher
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