2016 NHMU Lecture Series: Biodiversity in the Rainforest – The Hidden World of Nature’s Toxins

phylliscoleyBiodiversity in the Rainforest: The Hidden World of Nature’s Toxins

NHMU Lecture featuring

Dr. Phyllis Coley

Distinguished Professor of Biology, University of Utah and Research Affiliate, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Panama

Every year, Dr. Phyllis Coley spends months exploring the world’s rainforests, searching the jungle for tropical plants and insects that have been co-evolving for millions of years. Although jungle plants have deployed a stunning array of chemical defenses to protect themselves from their herbivorous predators, their predators have deployed an equally stunning array of counter defenses, in effect, creating an arms race between plants and insects. Coley’s research has led her to propose that these interactions not only help explain the high local diversity of rainforests, but why there are so many species of plants and insects to begin with. She has used her discoveries to promote a drug discovery program to find medicines in rainforests and promote conservation.

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