Lecture: the sex life of plants

2010-04-19 00:00

PROFESSOR Steve Johnson will on Wednesday give the Royal Society of South Africa lecture, “Pollination biology: exposing the sex life of plants”.

Johnson holds the South African research chair in evolutionary biology and is a professor in the School of Biological and Conservation Sciences at UKZN in Pietermaritzburg.

The scientific study of plant pollination systems was pioneered by Charles Darwin, who used examples of how flowers adapt to support his idea of evolution through natural selection. Modern analytical techniques are showing how the morphology, colours, scents and food rewards of flowers are adapted in diverse ways to exploit the sensory physiology of flower-visiting animals.

Phylogenetic studies show that pollinators play a major role in driving the evolutionary ­radiation of flowering plants. Evolutionary specialisation in pollination systems may, however, increase the risk of plant extinction.

Johnson will consider the importance of conserving pollinators to ensure the maintenance of plant diversity in South Africa

The lecture will be at 5.30 pm for 5.45 pm at the John Bews Lecture Theatre on the life sciences campus, Carbis Road. Inquiries: Edith Elliott 033 260 5455.

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