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Making dew in the Atacama: atmospheric water capture by desert plants.
Welcome to the launch of the Harvard UAI Collaborative Research Discoveries in Chile Series. A new series of workshops to showcase the Harvard UAI Collaborative Research Grants Program, organized by Chile Regional Office and the Andes and Southern Cone Program. The innovative research in all disciplines series will involve Harvard-UAI Funded Projects, and Noel Michele Holbrook, Co-Chair of the program, will be inaugurating the series in Fall 2020 during Harvard Worldwide Week 2020.

With Noel Michele Holbrook, Charles Bullard Professor of Forestry; Professor of Biology, Harvard University and Professor Jacques Dumais, Faculty of Engineering and Sciences, Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez (UAI).

The ecosystems of Chile are biodiversity hotspots with as much as 50% of their flora composed of species endemic to the country. A particularly high degree of endemism is found in the Atacama Desert where many plant species harbor unique adaptations to acquire water in this extremely arid environment. In this webinar, we will reveal some of the secrets behind the ecological success of these plants. On the sandy dunes north to Copiapó where the soil is completely dry, the airplant Tillandsia landbeckii forgoes making roots altogether and uses specialized, multicellular hairs to absorb the tiny fog droplets intercepted by its leaves. Further north in the valleys of Pan de Azúcar, the shrub Nolana mollis draws saline water from deep in the soil, preventing the toxic accumulation of salts by secreting it onto the surface of its leaves. These innovations, perfected over millions of years, have allowed these plants to dominate their respective ecosystems.

We will conclude this webinar with a discussion of how water acquisition strategies inspired by these plants offer sustainable solutions for the growing water crisis faced by humanity.

This event will be in English.

Oct 5, 2020 12:00 PM in Eastern Time (US and Canada)

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