Crag News

Plant health in the Science Week

During the Science Week, CRAG launches a workshop aimed at high school students and a website for all audiences to help raise awareness about plant health

From 14 to 29 November, the 25th Science Week is celebrated in Catalonia, a fortnight dedicated to scientific dissemination with a lot of activities for all audiences around the territory. Once again, CRAG participates in this initiative with two very different proposals adapted to the current situation: the Plant Defences workshop and the website Plant Health at CRAG, in Catalan and Spanish.

Plants are a key element in protecting biodiversity and ecosystems. As a source of oxygen, food, fabrics, materials, energy and drugs, they play a crucial role in people's well-being and economic development. Therefore, maintaining plant health is not only important, but essential. Given its global relevance, the United Nations has declared 2020 as the International Year of Plant Health (IYPH), and this year's edition of Science Week has not missed the occasion to highlight it as one of its central topics.

For two days, sixty high school students at Institut Matadepera (Matadepera) and Escola Industrial (Sabadell) will work as real scientists doing the Plant Defences workshop. This activity aims to help raise awareness about the relevance of research in plant biology, particularly plant diseases, while promoting scientific education among students and fostering scientific vocations.

Following the Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) principles, the experimental workshop Plant Defences is the result of a collaborative project between the Bacterial plant diseases and plant cell death research group and the Communication department from CRAG, and a team of experts in STEM didactics –the Centre for Research in Scientific and Mathematical Education (CRECIM), of the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB)–, with the advise of a high school teacher specialized in STEM. This workshop counts with the collaboration of the Fundación Española para la Ciencia y la Tecnología - Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación.

The website Plant Health at CRAG, in Catalan and Spanish, aims to inform and raise awareness about how "protecting plants is protecting life". It offers citizens the chance to get a closer look to the most recent discoveries and applications that are being developed at CRAG to fight the devastating effect of plant pests and diseases. From plants that produce compounds against fungi to varieties resistant to diseases, the site gathers informative videos and texts explaining examples of innovative practices and technologies that will allow us overcome the agricultural and environmental challenges of the 21st century.

During these days, it will also take place the virtual talk With whom do we compete for the plants that feed us? by UB researcher at CRAG Marc Valls, within the Scientific Cafes cycle of Casa Orlandai, as well as the online conference Stem cells in plants. Plants and immortality by CSIC researcher at CRAG Ana I. Caño-Delgado, which is part of the Scientific Literature Gatherings organized by the UVic-UCC.

About the funding of the projects

The project Plant Defences has been funded by the Fundación Española para la Ciencia y la Tecnología (FCT-18-13792) and by the distinction Centro de Excelencia Severo Ochoa (SEV-2015-0533 and CEX2019-000902-S), both granted by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation. The Severo Ochoa distinction has also made possible the development of the website Plant Health at CRAG.