University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > SCI Cambridge Science Talks > The Biochemistry of Autumn - Why do the leaves fall?

The Biochemistry of Autumn - Why do the leaves fall?

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Organised by CU ChemSoc, SCI Cambridge & Great Eastern Region & RSC Mid-Anglia Section

The flaming colours of autumnal leaves are a spectacular feature of the seasonal landscape. Yet what does this complex biochemistry signify? We have been taught that the pigmented compounds in leaves are revealed as chlorophyll is withdrawn from the dead and dying leaves, and that leaves are shed to prevent damage during the long winter months. This presentation demonstrates how these conventional views can be challenged. A different theoretical approach reveals that the loss of leaves has a profoundly important physiological significance in the life of vascular plants, and this view is currently percolating through the annals of botanical science. This illustrated presentation touches upon the many senses that plants possess, and uses the internet to show how we can document the changing status of a different approach to physiological theory.

Brian J Ford is President of the University of Cambridge Society for the Application of Research (CSAR). He has served at the Institute of Biology on Council and as Chairman of the Committee for the History of Biology, and writes for both the Biologist and the Journal of Biological Education. He has also served on Council of the Linnean Society, where he was Zoological Secretary and is Honorary Surveyor of Scientific instruments. Ford was appointed Visiting Professor at the University of Leicester in 2006, is a Fellow and Member of Court at Cardiff University; Honorary Fellow of Keynes College, University of Kent at Canterbury and former Fellow at the Open University. He was a NESTA Fellow 2004-2008. He has written over 30 books and many hundreds of papers. Ford’s research has been extensively published in journals including New Scientist, Scientific American, Nature, The Microscope and the British Medical Journal. He has written for The Times and The Guardian and is the author over 30 scientific books, many of which have been translated and published internationally. He is well known for many programmes on radio, where he hosted the weekly Science Now, and television, as host of series including ‘Computer Challenge’ and ‘Food for Thought’.

This talk is part of the SCI Cambridge Science Talks series.

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