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The University of Southampton
Biological Sciences

Question Time on plant science

Published: 30 November 2011

Professor Guy Poppy from the Centre for Biological Sciences has contributed to a thought-provoking challenge to find the hundred most important questions about plant science – and answer them.

He was asked to join a panel of 20 scientists and specialists from different backgrounds, including horticulture and farming; the paper they produced has been published in the high impact New Phytologist journal. Members of the public were asked to submit their ideas for consideration. The experts then discussed the subjects raised, chose the most relevant questions to include in the top 100 and used their experience to answer them.

“A lot of the most important issues in the world today involve plants,” says Guy. “We need to know how to feed the world’s increasing population without destroying the environment; we must find out which crops will thrive in future as the climate changes. If scientists can come up with plants that generate more energy, we can use them for food or fuel.”

Questions ranged from why trees such as the bristlecone pine tree in Arizona can live up to a thousand years to why people enjoy and benefit from green spaces.

The top ten questions of greatest interest to society are being circulated to policymakers such as MPs to highlight the importance and relevance of plant science. “This is a valuable resource for teachers; we hope they will discuss these issues in the classroom,” adds Guy.

Professor Guy Poppy
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