Drought-induced trans-generational tradeoff between stress tolerance and defense: consequences for range limits?

Basal rosettes of Boechera stricta under control watering conditions (left) and drought (right).
Basal rosettes of Boechera stricta under control watering conditions (left) and drought (right).

In the study of geographic range boundary development, the focus has been on leading rather than on trailing edge dynamics.  This is an important caveat as trailing edge dynamics will be critical for understanding population level persistence.  A study in AoB PLANTS by Alsdurf et al. begins to fill this knowledge gap and extends the conceptual framework of the field by focusing on trans-generational environmental effects in Boechera stricta, a perennial wild relative of Arabidopsis. The authors found that while these effects may overcome some constraints on stress tolerance evolution and range expansion, other constraints may be created to limit range.