Celebrating Basic Plant Science

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Published on: October 1, 2013

Do you know why the government uses taxpayers’ money to fund scientific research with no obvious application to the real world and definitely no short-term gain? Do you think it is valuable to carry out such research? If you’re a scientist, can you explain why your research is important?

At this year’s annual UK Plant Sciences Federation conference, PlantSci 2013, keynote speaker David Baulcombe made his case for the absolute necessity of ‘basic’ plant science research – science done for the sake of curiosity and understanding, to answer a question just because it’s there. He argues that above and beyond simple curiosity, maintaining a diversity of basic plant science research avenues is critical for paradigm shifts and future innovation, which are impossible to predict and can impact not only plant and agricultural science but medical science too. You can see him present his arguments in the video below, kindly provided by the Journal of Experimental Botany.

During the question and answer session after his talk, Baulcombe suggested that it would be a good idea to have some sort of online celebration of basic plant science. We jumped on this idea, and asked a few UK based scientists researching fundamental questions in plant science to write a blog post explaining their research and why they spend their time and energy on it. The ‘Celebrating Basic Plant Science’ series will start this week, and we’ll publish one story a month until we run out of volunteers. For now they’ll be here on the blog, but eventually we’ll give them a more permanent home on the GARNet website.

If you’re interested in finding out more about a certain area of plant science, please feel free to Tweet us (@weedinggems, @garnetweets) or to leave a comment below. If you want to contribute your own story Celebrating Basic Plant Science, we’d love to hear from you – please email charis@garnetcommunity.org.uk

Video credit: Journal of Experimental Botany. See the other talks from PlantSci 2013 here

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