Educational Resources for plant biology. Longer accessible videos: TED talks, iBiology and Gatsby Plants Summer School lectures

Many schools and universities are embarking on a new academic year, so it’s a good time to remind you of some of the great resources available to help you teach (or learn) about plant biology. Many of these and others can be found at the ASPB’s Education and Outreach page. See also the American Phytopathological Society’s Education Center and the website of the Botanical Society of America.

Here we focus on longer videos, featuring relatively accessible talks by scientists. These include: TED talks, which are directed at a general audience, the iBiology series, where speakers deliver a general talk followed by a research-focused talk, and videos of lectures at the Gatsby Plants summer school for undergraduate students. Most of these talks would be suitable for high school or undergraduate students.


TED talks. TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) talks are well-rehearsed 15 minute presentations designed to instill enthusiasm in the audience. Plant-oriented TED talks run the gamut from biofuels to urban gardening. Did we miss any? Let us know!

Achenyo Idachaba: How I turned a deadly plant into a thriving businessaa

Ameenah Gurib-Fakim: Humble plants that hide surprising secrets

Antonio Donato Nobre: The magic of the Amazon: A river that flows invisibly all around us (in Portuguese with English subtitles)

Ariel Novoplansky: Learning plant learning

Bilal Bomani: Plant fuels that could power a jet

Caleb Harper: This computer will grow your food in the future

Cary Fowler: One seed at a time, protecting the future of food

Jill Farrant: How can we make crops survive without water

Jonathan Drori: The beautiful tricks of flowers, also Why we’re storing billions of seeds and Every pollen grain tells a story

Juan Enriquez: Using biology to rethink the energy challenge

Jonathan Trent: Energy from floating algae ponds

Louie Schwartzberg: The hidden beauty of pollination

Marla Spivak: Why bees are disappearing

Michael Pollan: A plant’s eye view

Mohamed Hijri: A simple solution to the coming phosphorus crisismm

Nalini Nadkarni: Conserving the canopy

Pamela Ronald: The case for engineering our food

Rachel Sussman: The world’s oldest living things

Richard Preston: The mysterious lives of giant trees

Ron Finley: A guerilla gardener in South Central LA

Rose Goslinga: Crop insurance, an idea worth seeding

Stefano Mancuso: The roots of plant intelligence

Stephen Ritz: A teacher growing green in the South Bronx

Suzanne Simard:  How trees talk to each other


iBiology series. iBiology’s mission isto convey, in the form of open-access free videos, the excitement of modern biology and the process by which scientific discoveries are made”. Read more about their objectives here and explore their website for other educational resources.

Chris Somerville: 1. The argument for biofuels, and 2. Cellulosic biofuels

Dominique Bergmann: 1. Key issues in plant development, 2. Stomata as a model for stem cells, and 3. Stomata and the global climate cycle

Eliot Meyerowitz: 1. Why we need to understand plant development, 2: Vernalization: how winter cold promotes flowering, and 3. Plant development: Physical force as a signaling mechanism

Jay Keasling: Engineering microbes to solve global challenges

Luis Herrera-Estrella : 1. Plant nutrition and sustainable agriculture, 2. Phosphorus: an essential plant nutrient, and 3. An environmentally friendly phosphorus fertilization system

Pamela Ronald: 1. Sustainable agriculture, and 2. Engineering Resistance to Infection and Tolerance to Stresses

Richard Amasino: 1. How plants “know” when to flower, and  2. Vernalization: how winter cold promotes flowering

Also, Richard Amasino has recorded a video that explains how plants are ideal for teaching Genetics in the classroom.

Roger Beachy: 1. Biology of plant-virus infection, and 2: Genetic Engineering for Virus Resistance in Plants

Sharon Long: 1: Cooperation between bacteria and plants for protein nutrition, 2. Function and regulation of Sinorhizobium nodulation genes, and 3. Plant genes and cell response in nitrogen-fixing symbiosis

Susan Wessler:  1. Introduction to transposable elements, and 2. How transposable elements amplify throughout genomes


Gatsby Plants Summer School video lecture series.  The Gatsby Plant Science Summer School for undergraduate students was established by the University of Leeds in 2005 and is now part of the Gatsby Plant Science Education Programme at the University of Cambridge. Lectures by plant scientists are a feature of the Summer School, many of which are available online. In a partnership with the Global Plant Council, many of the lectures have transcripts in other languages: see the home page at the Plant Science TREE.

Alistair Fitter: People, plants and planet

Alistair Hetherington: Stomata: Key elements essential for the success of the vascular plants

Andrew Millar: Plant science leads the way in understanding biological timekeeping

Beverley Glover:  Flowering plant diversity: development, function and evolution

Bob Goldberg: Super plants for the 21st century

Cathie Martin: Engineering plant metabolism for healthy foods

David Beerling: Stomatal pores: ancient gateways to evolution and global change

David Salt: Revealing molecular mechanisms of plant nutrition using “Big Data”

Giles Oldroyd:  Engineering the nitrogen symbiosis for smallholder farmers in Africa

George Lomonossoff: Using plant viruses in bio- and nano-technology

James Barber: Can we build an artificial leaf to efficiently capture and use solar energy?

John Christie: Seeing the light: from plant growth to optogenetics

John Pickett: High impact plant science for low input control of pests and weeds in African cereals: The push-pull (companion cropping) approach

Jonathan Napier: Fish oils and seeds for healthy foods

Julian Ma: Improving global health with GM plants – seeds of hope

Malcolm Bennett: What happens below ground? A multidisciplinary approach to Root Biology

Mark Knight: How do plants feel?

Ottoline Leyser: Thinking like a vegetable: How plants decide what to do

Robert Zeigler: Importance of rice and food security

Sandra Knapp: Understanding plant diversity – mission to an almost unknown planet

Sarah O-Connor: How do plants make anti-cancer drugs?

Saskia Hogenhout: Insect vectors and vector-borne disease agents of plants – the surprising dynamics of interactions among three unrelated organisms

Simon McQueen-Mason: Developing biorenewable fuels and materials from plants

Sophien Kamoun: Next generation disease resistance breeding in plants

Steve Long:  Food, Feed and Fuel from Crops under Global Atmospheric Change. Could we have it all in 2030?

Toby Pennington: What is the most endangered type of tropical forest and why is so little being done to protect it?

We’re busy behind the scenes at making all of our educational materials easier to find and use. Let us know if you’ve got a favorite for us to include in our revised site!

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