Do plants have something to say?

Dr Jordan Dowell

We often think of plants as organisms left on their own to survive. Seemingly still and unable to make any noise they managed to fight with the rollercoaster of evolution. But plants talk to each other. So, what do they talk about?

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When walking into nature, we often hear the water flowing in a river, birds singing, or another wild animal expressing itself. But we don’t often realise that there is a very vibrant but inaudible community out there constantly exchanging valuable information for their survival: plants.

Plants secretly talk to each other through their roots as well as invisible volatile compounds. They inform each other of potential threats, such as an infection or an insect, as well as collaborate on how to share resources. They even developed dialects. But sometimes collaboration may convert into competition for resources, at which point communicating with each other might not be in plants' best interest.

Jordan Dowell, a postdoctoral researcher of Plant Chemical Ecology & Comparative Biochemistry at the University of California Davis, will join us in the garden to translate the fascinating language plants adopt every day.

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50 minutes


The Secret Life of Plants

About the Fellow

Dr Jordan Dowell

Dr Jordan Dowell is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of California, Davis. He researches how plants deal with pests, pathogens, and more importantly each other.

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The Secret Life of Plants Collection

Plants have long been cast as the backdrop to the brassier, noisier human and animal world. But new research is revealing another side of our botanical friends, and this time it's a starring role. What have they been up to while we were looking elsewhere?