Solanum watneyi & an Oscar-worthy performance by a plant scientist

Solanum watneyi – photo by Chris Martine

Dr. Chris Martine (Bucknell University) discovered a species of Australian bush tomato and named it after Mark Watney, the main character of Hollywood blockbuster, The Martian (based on Andy Weir’s novel of the same name). As a scientist dedicated to eliminating society’s tendency toward ‘plant blindness,‘ Chris took this opportunity to trumpet how very non-optional plants are to everyone’s survival (and not just on Mars). Chris’s motivation was clear. He noted in a recent Huffington Post article, “while much of what my fellow botanists and I do is pretty cool (and often challenging), there isn’t much that would find its way into a blockbuster hero film.”

So Chris made that connection for the viewing public with Solnum watneyi. For more details on Chris’s work and his campaign to make plants ‘cool’ see:

For rave reviews on this boon for plant biology, see:


Leave a Comment