News and Highlights
Botany Seminar Series
The NMNH Department of Botany seminar series features guest speakers presenting their current research. Topics range from taxonomy, evolution, and systematics to plant ecology and conservation biology. All seminars are held on Thursdays at 2pm Eastern (unless otherwise noted). If you are interested in receiving notices of upcoming seminars and web links to the virtual presentations, subscribe to the Botany Seminar email list by sending your name, affiliation, and email address to Gary Krupnick.
April 29 - Sandra Hoffberg (Columbia University): Using novel genomic and bioinformatic tools to understand the evolutionary history of Amaranthus
May 6 - Shayla Salzman (Cornell University): Ancient pollination syndrome and coevolution in cycads
June 10 - Nico Cellinese (Florida Museum of Natural History): TBA
The 18th Smithsonian Botanical Symposium, 13-14 May 2021, to explore plant symbioses
Registration is now open for the 18th Smithsonian Botanical Symposium, “Plant symbiosis: The good, the bad, and the complicated,” to be held 13-14 May 2021. This symposium will be held in a virtual setting and be spread over two days.
If you wish to attend both days of the symposium, be sure to register for each day:
Thursday, May 13, 2021: https://smithsonian.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_4oSefPMrToecWGgkIn62sQ
Friday, May 14, 2021: https://smithsonian.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_kZLs2Iv5S8aQCl5OI87ZPA
Plants, like all organisms, exist in collaboration and competition with other life forms. As primary producers, plants form the basis of most food webs. In many cases they also depend on insects, vertebrate animals, bacteria, and/or fungi to survive and reproduce. Sometimes these interactions are especially close and long lasting and such symbioses are among the most fascinating relationships in the natural world. The 18th Smithsonian Botanical Symposium will explore current research in the diversity of plant symbioses, examining the relationships plants have with insects, fungi, bacteria, and even other plants. Speakers will include botanists, ecologists, microbiologists, and geneticists whose research unravels the complicated relationships that plants have with their collaborators and competitors in the natural world.
In addition, the 18th José Cuatrecasas Medal in Tropical Botany will be awarded at the Symposium. This prestigious award is presented annually to an international scholar who has contributed significantly to advancing the field of tropical botany. The award is named in honor of Dr. José Cuatrecasas, a pioneering botanist who spent many years working in the Department of Botany at the Smithsonian and devoted his career to plant exploration in tropical South America.
Schedule for Thursday, May 13, 2021 (Eastern Time)
1:00 pm – Welcome
1:10 pm - Presentation of the José Cuatrecasas Medal
1:20 pm - Naomi Pierce (Harvard University), "Context dependent evolution of the African ant acacia, Vachellia drepanolobium, and its multitude of symbionts"
1:40 pm - Jay Bolin (Catawba College), "Hydnora from fungus to foul flower: the natural history of the strangest plants in the world"
2:00 pm - Posy Busby (Oregon State University), "Assembly and function of the leaf microbiome"
2:20 pm - Panel Discussion
Schedule for Friday, May 14, 2021 (Eastern Time)
1:00 pm – Welcome
1:10 pm - Leonora Bittleston (Boise State University), "Convergent interactions in carnivorous pitcher plant microcosms"
1:30 pm - Dong Wang (University of Massachusetts Amherst), "Indentured servitude: host control of intracellular bacteria in the nitrogen-fixing symbiosis"
1:50 pm - Manuela Dal Forno (Fort Worth Botanic Garden | Botanical Research Institute of Texas), "The lichen dilemma: unveiling diversity in multi-species symbioses"
2:10 pm - Panel Discussion
Women of the United States National Herbarium
Historically, botany has been one of the few attainable fields in science for women, most commonly in the areas of scientific illustration and field collection (assisting male botanists who oftentimes were their husbands). In the US National Herbarium, women have figured prominently. Here we spotlight many of our best from past and present.
Plants Are Cool Too!
Chris Martine's series "Plants are Cool Too" presents a behind the scenes in Kauai to look at how the National Tropical Botanical Garden is leading the charge to save rare plants and protect tropical biodiversity. In a second episode, a group of passionate plant people are working to save some of the rarest plants on the archipelago -- and tell us why we need a new generation of biodiversity lovers to help battle the extinction crisis. Our own Warren Wagner is spotlighted in this series.
Newsletter -- The Plant Press is the quarterly newsletter from the Department of Botany and the U.S. National Herbarium. The purpose of The Plant Press is to provide information about the activities of the Department. Included are articles about staff research and travel, visitors, new publications, and plant conservation highlights.