Why Is Research Important: John Tooker

John Tooker, assistant professor of entomology, told me one of the things he is working with is Arabidopsis --- the lab rat of plants. Arabidopsis was the first plant to have its entire genome sequenced and so thoroughly understood in terms of genetic and molecular data that it is a model plant for scientists. If you thought that you might know a plant yourself have a look at ARABIDOPSIS.ORG for an idea of how closely researchers look at a plant. Tooker is working to determine what volatile compounds different mutated versions of the plant give off allowing aphids to differentiate one from another, knowledge that will help develop systems for better plant defense.

I try not to wear out my welcome with questions. I promise I’ll only take a few minutes when I ask someone to be in a picture. My aim is to make quick pictures while moving from one assignment to another.  This picture was made in a growth chamber in the Agricultural Sciences and Industries Building.  Lately I have been thinking about the value of research. Tooker told me what he considered the value of research.

TOOKER: Research allows you to answer unknowns. Questions of how and why and what if. By investing research dollars into universities we are better prepared to solve problems. For instance, I’m interested in how to better control insect problems in crops. If we can discover ways to do that without using as much insecticide, environmental health improves, and the amount of money farmers have to spend on control goes down. As we discover answers and solutions to problems it benefits the public good.

The lab rat of plants. That’s stuck in my head.


Gill said…
After reading your post I came to know that Arabidobsis was the first plant whose entire DNA was sequenced. I think this research would prove useful for the development of genetic science and agricultural science.

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