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The role of plants in a changing environment

Publication date:
10 Nov 2020, 04:30 PM - 10 Nov 2020, 05:30 PM
AUT, WA Conference Centre, 55 Wellesley Street East
Professor Sebastian Leuzinger
Link to Event:

Plants don’t make a lot of noise, we often take them for granted. But plants are not only at the origin of all higher life on earth, they also fulfill a myriad of other tasks from influencing our climate to stabilising our soils, and making our planet look so wonderfully unique.

However, human action has fundamentally changed the conditions under which plants grow – the CO2 in the air is soon to be doubled, nitrogen inputs have gone up manifold, temperatures have increased and droughts have become more frequent. And those changes happened well within the lifespan of a single tree.

In this inaugural professorial address, Sebastian will take us on a tour of the fascinating world of plants, viewed from the perspective of a single stoma (a leaf pore), a tiny organ that is pivotal for the functioning of our planet, yet few of us will ever have heard of it. He will present examples of his research spanning from the physiology of a single leaf to the global carbon cycle.

Sebastian grew up in Switzerland, where his dad, a dedicated ornithologist, introduced him early on to the wonders of nature. He studied biology at the University of Basel and at James Cook University in Townsville, Australia, where his first degree was in coral reef ecology.

After working as a science teacher on a superyacht, he eventually returned to Switzerland to take up an MSc in statistics and a PhD in plant ecology under Christian Körner, who remains his mentor and collaborator to this day. Sebastian is on the science steering committee of iLEAPS, a global research project on plant-atmosphere interactions, and an editor of ‘Frontiers in functional Plant Ecology’.