Climate change, plasticity and genetic variation in Anthyllis vulneraria

Full title

Climate change, plasticity and genetic variation in Anthyllis vulneraria


Climate is a key factor determining plant distribution. Predictions of rapid climate change have resulted in a renewed interest in the possible responses of plants to changes in climate, such as migration to other localities, phenotypic plasticity and local adaptation. The aim of this project is to study the possible impact of predicted climate change on the short-lived perennial plant Anthyllis vulneraria along environmental gradients. We will analyze natural populations and their habitats along altitudinal and latitudinal gradients to investigate relationships between population characteristics and environmental conditions. We will also investigate molecular genetic diversity in relation to the same gradients. The variation in a number of quantitative traits and its distribution among spatial scales will be studied in a lowland common garden and compared with that of the variation in neutral genetic markers.

We will test whether plants from mountain and high latitude populations perform less well under lowland conditions than plants from lowland and central European populations, and whether genotypes exist in the mountain and high latitude populations that are preadapted to the predicted warmer future conditions. Plants will be genotyped to detect loci correlated with ecological gradients which are of ecological relevance in A. vulneraria.

Predicted higher temperatures are likely to increase the frequency of drought. To assess the role of plasticity and evolutionary adaptation in the response to increased droughts, both the plastic responses of high latitude / altitude and lowland populations to drought and genetic variation in drought resistance will be studied experimentally. The expected results will contribute to a better understanding of the role of plasticity, genetic diversity and local adaptation of short-lived grassland plants under predicted climate change. The outcomes will also have implications for the conservation and management of biodiversity.

Status of Phd

Supervisor at university: Prof. Dr. Diethart Matthies, Plant ecology, University of Marburg

Supervisor in Luxembourg: Dr. Guy Colling, institution : Scientific Research Centre of the National Museum of Natural History

PhD granted by Fonds national de la recherche Luxembourg. Duration: 3 years (01.09.2014 – 30.08.2017, 01.09.2017 – 30.08.2018).

Host institution: Fondation faune-flore @ Centre de recherche scientifique, Musée national d’histoire naturelle.


Laura Daco
Musée national d’histoire naturelle
Centre de recherche scientifique
Biologie des populations et évolution
24, rue Münster
L-2160 Luxembourg
phone: (+352) 462240 -265
fax: (+352) 46 38 48


  • Daco, L., Matthies, D., Hermant, S., & Colling, G. (2022). Genetic diversity and differentiation of populations of Anthyllis vulneraria along elevational and latitudinal gradients. Ecology and Evolution, 12(8).
  • Daco, L., Colling, G., & Matthies D. (2021) Altitude and latitude have different effects on population characteristics of the widespread plant Anthyllis vulneraria. Oecologia, 197, 1-13.
  • Daco, L., T. Maurice, S. Muller, J. Rossa, G. Colling, (2019) Genetic status of the endangered plant species Gladiolus palustris in the western part of its distribution area. Conservation Genetics.
  • Daco L (2011) Etude phylogénétique et phylogéographique de Gladiolus palustris et Gladiolus imbricatus à l’aide de marqueurs nucléaires ITS. Master thesis, University of Strasbourg, France.