Thinking like a vegetable: how plants decide what to do

If you happen to be in London this coming Wednesday, 24-October-2007, you can attend this lecture at The Royal Society given by Professor Ottoline Leyser.

As the blurb for the lecture says: A good example is the number of branches a plant makes.

It sounds like a fascinating talk. Unfortunately, I won't be able to attend. Nor will I be able to listen in to the live webcast (since I will be at work).

You can read the public notice here or you can just continue scrolling down to read it.

The Royal Society Rosalind Franklin Prize Lecture 2007

By Professor Ottoline Leyser, Department of Biology, University of York

Plants monitor a wide range of information from their surrounding environment. They combine information of multiple sorts, and respond in an appropriate way. In animals a large part of this job is done by the nervous system, with the brain acting as a central processor for the information collected. In plants there is no brain, and the information processing is distributed across the plant body. Much of this is achieved through the action of hormone signals that move throughout the plant and interact to integrate information and control specific responses. A good example is the number of branches a plant makes. This depends on many things - the quality of the light in which it is growing, the availability of nutrients, and the health of the existing growing tips of the shoot. All this information is channelled through a hormone signalling network and integrated to allow the plant to produce the number of branches most appropriate for its environment

Ottoline Leyser is Professor of plant Developmental Genetics at the University of York. Her research is aimed at understanding the complex network of long-range hormonal signals that regulate shoot branching in plants. She is particularly interested in integrating cellular level gene regulatory networks with hormone transport and whole plant level effects.

This lecture is FREE. No advance booking or registration required.

This event will be webcast live at

Image freshly picked from here


Barbara said…
Most plants are far more adaptive to their environment than most people are.
Richard said…
barbara: perhaps. I was intending to post it as something droll, but decided against it.
RennyBA said…
Sorry I cant attend as I am in Oslo on Wednesday - it sounds very interesting though so thanks for sharing.

wishing you a wonderful weekend and welcome you over as I share my Love Story right now.
Tena said…
Desolate that I cannot attend the live podcast (ha ha) on the secret life of vegetables. Lettuce know when it comes up again.
Richard said…
tena: oh, no! You thought of a pun! I like puns. Way to go Tena!
Ah, wouldn't you know it? It all comes down to those hormones! (I can say that partly in jest because hormones have given me grief all my life and still do!)
Tena said…
Richard, some people consider puns to be the lowest form of humor, but I love them.
Richard said…
MOI: a hormone is really just a fancy term for a chemical that signals the organism (or part of the organism) to do something.

But, there are lots of other chemical messengers. The problem is that scientists always want to simply and categorize everything, the truth is that there are a lot of interdependencies.

tena: I don't know. It depends on the nature of the pun. There are clever ones and then there are not so clever ones. I think it is like all humour, the worst is forced. I have no idea how you "said" it out loud. Had you said it the way I read it, deadpan, then it was good. Had you said it with emphasis, wink, wink, nod, nod on luttuce, it would not have worked.

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