Ottoline Leyser on how plants decide what to do

Plant biologist Ottoline Leyser talks to Jim Al-Khalili about the secret life of plants. She reveals why they have a unique ability to adapt in ways we animals can only dream of.

To the untrained eye, a plant's existence may seem rather uneventful. It spends its days rooted to the spot, seemingly at the mercy of its environment.

Not so, plant biologist Ottoline Leyser explains to Jim Al-Khalili. Plants are intelligent creatures that possess a unique ability to adapt in ways we animals can only dream of. They can alter their entire body plan of roots and shoots, when required, in response to their surroundings.

Now Director of the Sainsbury Laboratory & Professor of Plant Development at Cambridge University, Ottoline has spent her career unearthing the mysterious mechanisms that underpin this process. She's pieced together the finely-tuned network of hormonal signals which regulate how the roots and shoots of a plant develop.

These new insights into what plants get up to are so remarkable that Ottoline is determined to change the way we think about them.

Producer: Beth Eastwood.

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28 minutes

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