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Frantisek Baluska, Ph.D. is a researcher at the Institute of Cellular and Molecular Botany at the University of Bonn in Germany, where he focuses on root apices—a fascinating plant organ that has the complicated task of searching soils for water and mineral nutrients while avoiding toxic heavy metals also present in soils. Dr. Baluska explains that roots behave in much more complex ways than previously thought, using complex sensory systems to navigate their environment and relying upon cognitive mechanisms similar to those found in the human brain.

He delivers a compelling overview of many aspects of plant life and behavior, including the way in which roots decide which direction to grow, the presence of bending zones which allow roots to move in snakelike fashion, the root’s ability to evaluate concentrations of oxygen, water, and other nutrients essential to their survival, the way in which they communicate chemically with fungi and bacteria in their environment and differentiate between friendly and dangerous bacteria, the rich microbiome present on the surface of roots, the ability of plants to control insect behavior, and how all of this information points to real plant cognition.

Dr. Baluska is a wealth of knowledge on these subjects, so tune in to hear the full conversation, and learn more about his work by visiting

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