Cover art for podcast The Life Scientific

The Life Scientific

244 EpisodesProduced by BBC Radio 4Website

Professor Jim Al-Khalili talks to leading scientists about their life and work, finding out what inspires them and asking what their discoveries might do for us in the future.

27:52

Ottoline Leyser on how plants decide what to do

To the untrained eye, a plant's existence may seem rather uneventful. It spends its days rooted to the spot, seemingly at the mercy of its environment.

Not so, plant biologist Ottoline Leyser explains to Jim Al-Khalili. Plants are intelligent creatures that possess a unique ability to adapt in ways we animals can only dream of. They can alter their entire body plan of roots and shoots, when required, in response to their surroundings.

Now Director of the Sainsbury Laboratory & Professor of Plant Development at Cambridge University, Ottoline has spent her career unearthing the mysterious mechanisms that underpin this process. She's pieced together the finely-tuned network of hormonal signals which regulate how the roots and shoots of a plant develop.

These new insights into what plants get up to are so remarkable that Ottoline is determined to change the way we think about them.

Producer: Beth Eastwood.

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