Without plants, we would have no air to breathe or food to eat, but botany lingers in the darkened wings while other fields take center stage. Aiming to shed light on plants, a new study presents the top 100 questions in this most pressing area of research to address humanity’s greatest challenges.
Sana Sivanto, a plant physiologist at Los Alamos National, said: “The study highlights the importance of plant science to society by raising a myriad of questions and technical challenges that, if solved, could sustainably support increasing population on a changing planet.” the climate”. Lab and co-author of the study recently published in the journal New Botany.
Questions cover a wide range of topics, including genetically modified organisms, plant fuels, food scarcity, growing seaweed as a carbon sink, using algae to clean up oil spills, how soil microorganisms affect stress in plants, and even growing plants. space to support human life.
Sevanto was one of 20 members drawn from Europe, North America, South America, Asia, Oceania and Africa. In four regional teams, panelists examined more than 600 questions submitted from around the world by anyone interested in plants—not just scientists. Panelists edited these submissions into a definitive list of the 100 most important questions facing plant science in 2022, ranging from how plants contribute to tackling climate change, plant advocacy, and epigenetics. The paper revisits a similarly named 2011 paper on the same topic.
The authors hope that, along with funding for it, the paper will stimulate additional research in this field.
“Botany is often overlooked as an ancient science with low importance in the curriculum, so interested students often struggle to find research questions that contribute significantly to the current state of the art in the field,” said Civanto. “This study shows that botany is a young and highly technical field that can contribute unique solutions to many challenges facing humanity and the planet.”
Areas of critical global importance
The panel selected the top 11 questions representing areas of global importance critical across diverse plant science research:
- Climate change: How will climate change affect plant abundance, productivity, biomes and ecosystems?
- science in society: How can we ensure that the diverse goals and needs of our diverse communities are understood and fulfilled by botanists?
- food security: How can we take advantage of existing genetic diversity to create climate-resistant crops?
- Biodiversity: How does species diversity evolve in new ecosystems such as restored farmlands, forests, grasslands, and gardens?
- Sustainability Could plant defense preparation be a platform for a new green revolution?
- Plant and plant interactions: How are interactions between plant species regulated?
- plant disease: How should we prepare for new pathogens of trees, crops and the natural environment?
- Plant Microbiome Interactions: How does the plant microbiome affect stress tolerance?
- plant adaptation: What is the flexibility of the epigenome of plants?
- Plant stress responses: How do plants deal with compound stressors?
- ecosystem services: What natural materials can be invested in for a more sustainable future for manufacturing or residential development?
Funding: Laboratory-directed research and development program at Los Alamos National Laboratory