Sunday with a Scientist to focus on 'jungle under our feet'

Sunday with a Scientist to focus on 'jungle under our feet'

The University of Nebraska State Museum's September Sunday with a Scientist program will explore plant science, including the root microbiome.
Courtesy photo | Joel Brehm
The University of Nebraska State Museum's September Sunday with a Scientist program will explore plant science, including the root microbiome.

The University of Nebraska State Museum's September Sunday with a Scientist program for children and families will explore the "jungle under our feet" (plant science) from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Sept. 17 at Morrill Hall, 645 N. 14th St.

Joshua Herr, assistant professor of plant pathology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and scientists from the state's Center for Root and Rhizobiome Innovation will help visitors learn more about plant roots, soil and microbes in agriculture. Visitors can view displays and participate in hands-on activities including examining soil microbes under a microscope and comparing root structures from different crop plants.

"In the 'underground jungle,' plant roots mine the soil for water and nutrients to support the growth of the entire plant and are aided by beneficial microbes," said Edgar Cahoon, professor of biochemistry at Nebraska and a CRRI member. "The microbial community that surrounds roots, known as the root microbiome or rhizobiome, responds to chemical signals released by roots."

The signals can promote interactions, including those where the plant and microbe mutually benefit. Such interactions are of key interest as scientists devise new strategies to enhance crop production with less water and chemical fertilizers.

Sunday with a Scientist is a presentation series that highlights the work of scientists, while educating children and families on a variety of topics related to science and natural history. Presenters share scientific information in a fun, informal way through demonstrations, activities or by conducting science on site. The presentations typically take place from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. on the third Sunday of each month.

For more information, including upcoming topics, click here.