Ian T. Baldwin What New Insights into Plants' Defense Mechanisms Can Be Gained by Studying Their Interactions with Their Habitat?
© Maximilian Dörrbecker
Max Planck Society
"The Max Planck Society is Germany's most successful research organization. Since its establishment in 1948, no fewer than 18 Nobel laureates have emerged from the ranks of its scientists, putting it on a par with the best and most prestigious research institutions worldwide. The more than 15,000 publications each year in internationally renowned scientific journals are proof of the outstanding research work conducted at Max Planck Institutes – and many of those articles are among the most-cited publications in the relevant field." (Source)
Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology
"The Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena investigates the role, diversity and characteristics of chemical signals which control the interactions between organisms and their environment. Scientists from the fields of ecology, biochemistry, organic chemistry, entomology, ethology, and insect physiology work closely together in the Institute in order to understand the complex system of chemical communication. Their research focuses on the co-evolution of plants and insects. The fact that plants usually spend their entire lives in one place forces them to use effective strategies to guarantee that their offspring are spread and also to protect themselves against pests and diseases. To this effect, plants have developed a wide range of chemical signalling compounds that enable them to optimise their adaptation to their respective environments. These so-called allelochemicals are used to, among other things, attract pollinators, fend off herbivores and pests, fight diseases and keep unwelcome competitors away. Plants also synthesise mixtures of many organic substances that have a deterrent or toxic effect on herbivores. As a countermeasure, insects that feed on plants adapt accordingly and, for their part, try to overcome plant defences." (Source)
In the past decades plants were viewed primarily as “growth machines” that produce oxygen and biomaterials. The research projects presented in this video look at plants more as organisms that have to solve the challenges of life. The studies analyzed the reaction of plants to certain ecological interactions in a manner that brings together molecular biology and ecology. This reunion of biological sub-disciplines enables scientists to understand gene functions that are the basis for the elaborated chemical responses to environmental stimuli that native plants have developed over the course of their evolution. As IAN T. BALDWIN explains, this new perspective on plants is helpful to bring “ecological sophistication” back to cultivated plants in order to make them more resistant to harsh habitats.
LT Video Publication DOI: https://doi.org/10.21036/LTPUB10201
Rediscovering the Bush Telegraph
- Ian T. Baldwin
- Published in 2015