Serendipity and trust: scaling a few aspects of plant health in the environment 1967-2017.

In 1967 experimental plant biology had about exhausted its engagement with radioactive isotopes and was anchored in enzyme biochemistry, neither of which had much application in plant/environmental studies. Our ability to move plant environmental biology up and down through 15 or 20 through orders of magnitude in space and time over the last 50 years has depended on adoption of technologies from biogeochemistry (stable isotope fractionation) and biophysics (high sensitivity measurement of atmospheric gases and water vapour, optics and LEDS), among other things. Many of the processes underlying plant environment interactions emerged serendipitously from high trust, unfettered curiousity-driven research in RSBS/CSIRO, Canberra, Carnegie Plant Biology, Palo Alto CA, Columbia’s Biosphere 2 Laboratory Oracle AZ, and the University of Wollongong to become the stuff of global competitive grant programs today.
This talk will focus on the ways remote sensing of the ~1% of sunlight absorbed by cells and leaves in the plant biosphere that is re emitted as chlorophyll fluorescence within a few micro seconds can be monitored and modelled to follow the health of plant tissues and canopies over hours to weeks, from molecular to landscape scales. Solar induced fluorescence from the thin green veneer of the plant biosphere now can be monitored from space, offering real time observation of crop and ecosystem responses to global climatic change. (Osmond CB 2014 Annual Review of Plant Biology 65, 1-32)