Active and adaptive plasticity in a changing climate

Rob Brooker (Lead / Corresponding author), Lawrie K. Brown, Timothy S. George, Robin J. Pakeman, Sarah Palmer, Luke Ramsay, Christian Schöb, Nicholas Schurch, Mike J. Wilkinson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)
107 Downloads (Pure)


Better understanding of the mechanistic basis of plant plasticity will enhance efforts to breed crops resilient to predicted climate change. However, complexity in plasticity's conceptualisation and measurement may hinder fruitful crossover of concepts between disciplines that would enable such advances. We argue active adaptive plasticity is particularly important in shaping the fitness of wild plants, representing the first line of a plant's defence to environmental change. Here, we define how this concept may be applied to crop breeding, suggest appropriate approaches to measure it in crops, and propose a refocussing on active adaptive plasticity to enhance crop resilience. We also discuss how the same concept may have wider utility, such as in ex situ plant conservation and reintroductions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)717-728
Number of pages12
JournalTrends in Plant Science
Issue number7
Early online date10 Mar 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2022


  • adaptive plasticity
  • climate change
  • epigenetics
  • G × E effects
  • sustainable cropping

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Plant Science


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