Communicating Plants: The Chemical Language of Goldenrods and Its Ecological Consequences


Wednesday, October 21, 2015 - 7:00pm to Thursday, October 22, 2015 - 6:45pm




Unitarian Church Annex, 2nd floor, Buffalo St Entrance; 208 E. Buffalo St, Ithaca


Andre Kessler, Cornell Dept. Ecology & Evolutionary Biology


Chemical communication by plants has long been discussed as a factor in interactions within ecological communities. Volatile organic compounds emitted from a plant that has been attacked by herbivores or pathogens have been found to affect interactions between the plant and its enemies, the plant and the enemies of its enemies, as well as between neighboring plants. How important this chemical information transfer is for larger scale ecological processes (and ultimately the plants’ fitness) has been a topic of controversy, a controversy that will be at the core of this presentation.

The tall goldenrod, Solidago altissima, turns out to be a plant that is very actively interacting with its surrounding community via chemical signals, which makes this Northeastern poster plant a perfect study system for plant communication. In this presentation Andre will investigate some of the concepts of plant communication using goldenrod and its unusually diverse arthropod community as an example. Knowing about the extent of goldenrod’s information exchange with its environment will make you appreciate the golden late-summer color of the Finger Lakes Region’s oldfields even more.