Adaptable Algae & Magic Moss
Algae doesn’t get much press. As a potential biofuel, food source and integral part of our ecosystem, it deserves more attention.
And moss? Moss doesn’t get any press at all. But if you want to understand how plants evolved, moss is old and rich in information and a good place to start asking questions.
All multicellular organisms, including plants, are believed to have evolved from a relatively small number of single-celled ancestors. Certain molecular processes controlling multicellular development as a result are likely shared by all species.
Juliet Coates and her team at the University of Birmingham’s School of Biosciences are investigating what those processes are and as a result, algae and moss are getting some serious attention. For as Juliet notes in her contribution to the New Optimists:
If we can trace the evolutionary history of the plants we see around us, we stand a better chance of being able to use them in a productive way.
For example, by understanding how ancient plants made the journey to land, we can identify their drought-resistance strategies and manipulate modern plants to be more drought-resistant when required.
She showed us round her lab and talked us through her work with an infectious enthusiasm that made plant biology and moss look downright good fun. Watch the rest of our interview with her here!