What are the key research priorities that will help tackle the global challenges of climate change, the biodiversity crises and feed a growing population in a sustainable way? Ten years after these priorities were first debated and summarised by a panel of scientists and published in New Phytologist, the panel reflects on the changes to plant science and the progress made to address these research areas, published on 16 March in a Letter in New Phytologist.
To re-evaluate research priorities, a new panel was formed in 2022 to provide an international perspective on the important areas for plant science research. This project, led by Prof. Claire Grierson (University of Bristol, UK), is a novel piece of research that gathered over 600 questions about plant science, from botanically curious members of the public to scientific and industrial leaders around the world. A team of 20 plant scientists from 15 nations were assembled to identify 100 of the most important questions facing plant science.
These 100 questions are published on 16 March in a Viewpoint in New Phytologist and highlight how climate change, biodiversity loss, and interdisciplinary and international collaborations are critical global priorities across diverse plant science research fields. The study demonstrates how critically important plant scientists believe the fight against climate change is, highlights global disparities in science funding and showcases a diverse range of important future research topics.
This inclusive study demonstrates how a global community of plant scientists, with a wide range of expertise, view the strategic priorities for plant research and offers insight into how different areas of research are important to different global regions. The study emphasises how an inclusive, international exercise can be used to identify diverse research questions. As panellist Dr Shyam Phartyal (Nalanda University, India) said, “One of the most significant steps of this study is maintaining a high level of diversity – not only in question gathering but also in the selection of panellists from the Global South.”
Another panellist, Dr Ida Wilson (Stellenbosch University, South Africa), said “My work is solution driven and needs to directly address the challenges that farmers in South Africa and Africa face. As part of the Africa panel, I am also very proud of the African inputs, and grateful for the opportunity to have our voices heard. I mentor young scientists too, and the excitement the publication has generated is tangible”.
Prof. Claire Grierson said, “These two papers form a unique and valuable resource for researchers and newcomers to plant science, including collaborators on interdisciplinary projects, students and early career researchers, and for policy development”.
Together, these two papers provide an excellent introduction to how plant science is developing and the significance, range and depth of research that needs to be addressed.
Armstrong, E.M., et al. (2023) One hundred important questions facing plant science: an international perspective. New Phytologist. doi: 10.1111/nph.18771
Larson, E.R., et al. (2023) One hundred important questions for plant science – reflecting on a decade of plant research. New Phytologist. doi: 10.1111/nph.18663
Further information for Editors
This study was funded by the Bristol Centre for Agricultural Innovation.
About New Phytologist
New Phytologist is a leading international journal focusing on high quality, original research across the broad spectrum of plant sciences, from intracellular processes through to global environmental change. The journal is owned by the New Phytologist Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to the promotion of plant science. https://www.newphytologist.org/
About the University of Bristol
The University is ranked within the top 10 universities in the UK and 61st in the world (QS World University Rankings 2023); it is also ranked among the top five institutions in the UK for its research, according to analysis of the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021; and is the 3rd most targeted university by top UK employers.
The University was founded in 1876 and was granted its Royal Charter in 1909. It was the first university in England to admit women on the same basis as men.
The University is a major force in the economic, social and cultural life of Bristol and the region, but is also a significant player on the world stage. It has over 20,000 undergraduates and over 7,000 postgraduate students from more than 150 countries, and its research links span the globe.
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One hundred important questions facing plant science: an international perspective
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