LECTURE: Whispering Willows and Lying Lillies: The Chemical Dialogues of Plant Behavior
Plants provide the life support systems for humans and all other animals on Earth, yet most people think of them as nothing more than scenery, or primarily as renewable commodities. However, biologists have begun to appreciate that plants play far more active, strategic roles in their own survival and success than was formerly appreciated, through adaptive responses to environmental stress and through complex above and below ground communication networks, mediated by chemistry. As humans continue to explore the pharmacopoeia of secondary products produced by plants for their medicinal uses, biologists have learned that many of these compounds constitute an ancient language by which plants communicate with themselves, their neighbors, enemies and partners, on a time scale that few humans can appreciate. Professor Raguso's talk will explore these new discoveries and challenge the audience to listen to their gardens, forests and meadows with new ears (and noses).