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Kathy Willis considers our changing relationship with plants over the last 250 years - from tools to exploit, to objects of beauty, to being an essential resource we must conserve.

Plants: From Roots to Riches BBC

    • Geschichte
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Kathy Willis considers our changing relationship with plants over the last 250 years - from tools to exploit, to objects of beauty, to being an essential resource we must conserve.

    Episode 5

    Episode 5

    Professor Kathy Willis, director of science at the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, with the final episodes of her new history of our changing relationship with plants

    Kathy Willis examines how the technology that helped map whole genomes in plants and animals was to revolutionise the classification of flowering plants; the evolution of our rainforests as revealed by DNA fingerprinting; plants as essential regulators of our planet's atmospheric carbon and water cycles; how green spaces and ecosystems have a positive effect on our health and well being; the future role of plants as providers of food to feed the planet's growing population.

    Producer Adrian Washbourne.

    • 56 Min.
    Episode 4

    Episode 4

    Prof Kathy Willis, Director of Science at Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, with an omnibus edition of her history of our changing relationship with plants from the early 20th century.

    She examines new insights into plant hormones during the first few decades of the 20th century, the manipulation of which underpinned the perceived success of the so called Green Revolution; unlocking biodiversity through the creation of plant flora encyclopaedias - and their influence in conservation; the surprising benefits to emerge from the devastation wreaked by the great storm of 1987; what can be gained by preserving the diversity of plants through seed banking; the legacy of Arabidopsis - the first plant to have its entire genome sequenced.

    Producer Adrian Washbourne.

    • 56 Min.
    Episode 3

    Episode 3

    Prof Kathy Willis, Director of Science at the Royal Botanic Garden, Kew, with the omnibus edition of her history of our changing relationship with plants during the early 20th century.

    Kathy Willis examines how the complete picture of photosynthesis led to new opportunities to manipulate plant growth; the ability of plants to exhibit multiple forms that shed light on why flowering plants evolved so quickly; the legacy of tree diseases during the 20th century; the hunt for wild ancestors of our domestic crops in order to maintain resilience within our future food supplies; and botanical medicines and the hunt for new medicinal cocktails at home and abroad.


    Producer Adrian Washbourne.

    • 56 Min.
    Episode 2

    Episode 2

    Prof Kathy Willis, Director of Science at the Royal Botanic Garden, Kew, with the omnibus edition of her history of our changing relationship with plants during the 19th century.

    She examines the race to tame and culture the prized Amazonian water lily which played out in glare of the nations' new greenhouses; the smuggling of rubber seeds out of Brazil to establish a rubber industry in the British colonies; how a growing passion for orchids opened a new episode in cultivating exotic plants for all; the threat posed by the rise of invasive species; and how a new precision in understanding the behaviour of hybrids led to the birth of modern genetics at the close of the 19th century.

    Producer Adrian Washbourne.

    • 57 Min.
    Episode 1

    Episode 1

    The first of five omnibus editions of Prof Kathy Willis' timely new history of our changing relationship with plants

    From the birth of modern plant classification, harnessing botany and imperial progress in furthering Britain's destiny as the major civilising power in the world , to establishing the laws of what grows where and why, Professor Kathy Willis, Director of Science at the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, examines new attitudes to plants during the 18th and early 19th century.

    From plants as tools to exploit to flowers as objects of beauty, Kathy Willis draws upon Kew's archives and its herbarium collection of pressed plants that was to play a pivotal role in establishing insights into plant relationships and their distribution around the world. It was to help establish the first accurate maps of the world's flora by the mid 19th century.

    Producer: Adrian Washbourne

    Presenter: KATHY WILLIS is director of science at Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew. She is also professor of long-term ecology and a fellow of Merton College, both at Oxford University. Winner of several awards, she has spent over 20 years researching and teaching biodiversity and conservation at Oxford and Cambridge.

    • 56 Min.
    The Great Providers

    The Great Providers

    Prof Kathy Willis concludes her major new history series by asking how much plant biodiversity is worth, and examines new research into securing the future of our staple crops.

    Understanding the distribution, diversity and potential of plants for food, lay at the heart of the 18th century botanical impresario Joseph Banks' vision to "improve Britain's estates of the world". To secure future resilience of crops in today's world there's a growing need to conserve the closest wild relatives of our staple crops.

    Kathy Willis discovers, given climatic threats to some of our most substantial crops such as coffee - for which the industry currently depends on a single species, the economic value of wild relatives of today's domestic crops is considerable.

    And as we hear, some important future crops are still to be found from previously overlooked plants.

    With contributions from Richard Thompson, Business valuations partner at Price-Waterhouse Cooper; historian Jim Endersby; head of coffee research at Kew, Aaron Davis; Kew's head of yams Paul Wilkin.

    Producer Adrian Washbourne

    Music for the series was composed by Mark Russell.

    • 14 Min.

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