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One hundred important questions facing plant science research

As the authors of this recent study state – plant science has never been more important. The growing human population needs abundant safe and nutritious food, shelter, clothes, fibre, and renewable energy, and needs to address the problems generated by climate change, while preserving habitats.

It is believed that these global challenges can only be met in the context of a strong fundamental understanding of plant biology and ecology, and translation of this knowledge into field-based solutions.

While the authors note that plant science is beginning to address these grand challenges, they argue that it is not clear that the full range of challenges facing plant science is known or has been assessed. 

To answer this problem, a 3-month survey was carried out to identify the100 most important questions for plant scientists.

While the full list is provided in the paper, the top 10 questions considered most important to society were identifed as:

  • How do we feed our children’s children?
  • Which crops must be grown and which sacrificed, to feed the billions?
  • When and how can we simultaneously deliver increased yields and reduce the environmental impact of agriculture?
  • What are the best ways to control invasive species including plants, pests and pathogens?
  • Considering two plants obtained for the same trait, one by genetic modification and one by traditional plant breeding techniques, are there differences between those two plants that justify special regulation?
  • How can plants contribute to solving the energy crisis and ameliorating global warming
  • How do plants contribute to the ecosystem services upon which humanity depends?
  • What new scientific approaches will be central to plant biology in the 21st Century?
  • How do we ensure that society appreciates the full importance of plants and how can we attract the best young minds to plant science?
  • How do we ensure that sound science informs policy decisions?

Read the full paper here

One hundred important questions facing plant science research
C. S. Grierson, S. R. Barnes, M. W. Chase, M. Clarke, D. Grierson, K. J. Edwards, G. J. Jellis, J. D. Jones, S. Knapp, G. Oldroyd, G. Poppy, P. Temple, R. Williams, R. Bastow. New Phytologist. Article first published online: 22 AUG 2011

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