Recently, the Institute for Creation Research acquired some property in Alaska that will enable its scientists to study the unique mechanisms in plants that allow them to live in extreme climates. The selection of available tree species (white spruce, alder, cottonwood, birch, and willow) provides a variety of unique cold tolerance systems in plants for studies in “extreme” intelligent design. Because extreme cold can be detrimental to living organisms, divine programming is required to equip plant life to survive (and even thrive) in Alaskan winters.
Real Ecoscience Requires Observing Nature in Action
While much is known about the cold acclimation and tolerance process in plants, a majority of studies performed in this research field have only been done with plants adapted to moderate climates, such as the model species thale cress (Arabidopsis thaliana), a small weedy plant in the mustard family. These basic studies have provided an excellent cache of genetic and physiological data that forms a foundation to build upon and to refer back to.
However, there are other mechanisms in plants for cold tolerance that are not represented in the thale cress species, particularly those found in the various species that live in very extreme cold temperatures, like those found on ICR’s new Alaska property. This particular tract of land is located in the “Southcentral Alaska” region (not far from Anchorage) and within range of what is called a subarctic or boreal climate. This area is ideal for the study of cold-tolerant plant species because it is generally characterized by long (nine months), cold winters where temperatures often drop down to -40°F. The summers are short and mild, and temperatures can climb above 80°F, but also on occasion drop to below freezing at night.1
The Acclimation Process
In order for plants to survive the cold winter temperatures, they first go through what is called an acclimation process.2 It is this acclimation period in which most of the activity in the cell occurs in relation to increasing the plant’s cold tolerance. Acclimation is initiated by gradually cooling temperatures in autumn as winter approaches….
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