Scientists identify 100 important questions facing plant science

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An international team of scientists has identified 100 of the most important questions facing plant science. The international initiative has identified key research priorities and highlights the importance of diversity, collaboration and funding for plant research to address climate change, the biodiversity crisis and sustainable food production.

What are the key research priorities that will help address the global challenges of climate change, biodiversity crises and sustainably feed a growing population? Ten years after these priorities were first discussed and summarized by a group of scientists and published in Young Phytologistpanel reviews changes in plant science and progress made to address these research areas, published March 16 as a Letter by ER Larson and colleagues in Young Phytologist.

To reassess research priorities, a new panel was established in 2022 to provide an international perspective on important areas for research in plant science. This project, led by Prof. Claire Grierson (University of Bristol, UK), is a new survey that collected over 600 questions about plant science, from botanically curious members of the public to scientific and industry leaders worldwide. A group of 20 plant scientists from 15 nations came together to identify 100 of the most important questions facing plant science.

These 100 questions are published March 16 in an opinion piece written by EM Armstrong and colleagues at Young Phytologist and to highlight how climate change, biodiversity loss and interdisciplinary and international collaborations are critical global priorities in various fields of plant science research. The study demonstrates how critical plant scientists believe the fight against climate change is, highlights global disparities in science funding, and presents a wide range of important future research topics.

This comprehensive study shows how a global community of plant scientists, with a wide range of expertise, views the strategic priorities for plant research and offers insight into how different areas of research are important to different global regions. The study emphasizes how a comprehensive, international exercise can be used to identify different research questions. As partner Dr. Shyam Phartyal (Nalanda University, India), “One of the most important steps of this study is to maintain a high level of diversity – not only in the collection of questions but also in the selection of participants from the Global South.”

100 questions for the future of plant science. Credit: The New Phytologist Foundation

Another panelist, Dr. Ida Wilson (Stellenbosch University, South Africa), said: “My work is solution-based and must directly address the challenges facing farmers in South Africa and Africa. As part of the Africa panel, I am also very proud of the African inputs and grateful for the opportunity to have our voices heard. I also mentor young scientists and the excitement the publication has generated is palpable.”

Professor Claire Grierson said, “These two papers are a unique and valuable resource for researchers and newcomers to science development, including collaborators in interdisciplinary projects, students and early career researchers, as well as for policy development.”

Together, these two works provide an excellent introduction to how plant science is developing and the importance, breadth and depth of research that must be addressed.

More information:
Larson, ER, et al. (2023) One hundred important questions for plant science – reflecting on a decade of plant research, Young Phytologist (2023). DOI: 10.1111/nph.18663

Armstrong, EM, et al. (2023) One hundred important questions facing plant science: an international perspective. Young Phytologist. DOI: 10.1111/nph.18771

Provided by The New Phytologist Trust

Reference: Scientists identify 100 important questions facing plant science (2023, March 16) Retrieved March 16, 2023, from

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