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Greenlit: Botany – A Blooming History, BBC4

Botany – A Blooming History (3 x 60′)  –  Reveals how a band of pioneers came to understand the mysteries of the plant kingdom and in doing so helped to unlock the secrets of the natural world. Presented by the director of Oxford University Botanic Garden, Timothy Walker, this series features tales of ingenuity and intellectual rivalry.  It tells the story of how we came to understand the natural order of the plant world and how the quest to discover how plants grow uncovered the secret to life on the planet.

The series features the latest plant science and shows how botanists today are at the forefront of advances which fight disease, provide radical new forms of renewable energy and help feed the world’s growing population. Timothy Walker reveals how the breakthroughs of botanist Carl Linnaeus and naturalist John Ray moved the variation in plants from a matter of religious faith to a scientific discipline.

When nurseryman Thomas Fairchild created the world’s first man-made hybrid flower – an entirely new plant that didn’t exist in nature – he set botany a challenge to discover how plants breed and how they are related. It was a botanist, William Bateson, who invented the term “genetics”. He discovered how living things pass on their characteristics from generation to generation.

And in the Forties botanist and geneticist Nikolia Vavilov died in a Soviet prison for his dream of using the new science of genetics to develop a new generation of super crops.  Today plant scientists are spearheading an ambitious attempt to re-engineer rice so that it can harness the energy of the sun more efficiently to help feed the world’s growing population.

Channel: BBC4

Producer: BBC Productions

TX: Spring / Summer 2011

Source: BBC Press Office

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