Biology student researches VOCs and plant communication 

A mandatory class for biology students, Biology 480 or also known as Integration of Biological Principles, is an independent study/research course where students learn and discuss different biological principles.           The class gives students the opportunity to research and present about various biological topics that are of interest to them. Beau Broussard chose to do his research on a topic within the environmental science field.

Broussard chose to focus his research and presentation on VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) which plants use to communicate with their surrounding environment.

“I chose to research and present about VOCs (volatile organic compounds), a method plants use to communicate with each other and their surrounding environment. Plant communication is a subject of extreme importance for understanding how various species interact on our planet. Our understanding of plant communication impact on an entire ecosystem is still in its infancy. While we now understand the processes and the power, we still don’t quite understand how huge the impact is within ecosystems and other biological environments,” Broussard said.

Broussard believes promoting and taking part in research in environmental science is crucial to having a better understanding of the human species and surrounding species.

Broussard notes that plant species are extremely complex and that is what makes his research about plant communication so important. Many people do not know that plants communicate with each other and compete for nutrients. Research and presentations that bring attention to plant communication and other areas of environmental science gives more knowledge to society and to future generations.

“Plant communication is an extremely complex process that plays a major role in ecosystem balance. From defense to interspecies communication, to “picking” predatory winners and losers, to effecting the evolutionary processes of other species, the door has only been cracked on our understanding of the absolutely huge magnitude of VOCs and other forms of plant communication,” Broussard said.

Broussard’s research focuses on ecology meaning how organisms interact with their environments. Research on plant communication has been done throughout the nation by many different institutions. The National Institute of Health notes that plants are able to warn other plants about impending danger and plants are then able to prepare their own defense weapons in response. Research notes that many people are completely unaware of what plants are doing around them.

“Plant communication and subsequent warfare between plants and other species is happening around us all the time, both above and below ground. Understanding the interconnected nature of plants and their environment, as shown through their various communicatory processes, gives us greater insight into how our species and others interact to survive and find a more harmonious existence. Plant communication also indicates that plants are major players in determining what species might exist and thrive or fail in an area. Powerful stuff,” Broussard said.

After completing his research on VOCs Broussard still believes that this is a subject that deserves to be taken seriously in regards to understanding how different species interact with the environment. It is safe to say Broussard did not do this experiment just to get a grade for his class but because it is something he actually believes in and believes could have a significant impact on the world.

“Without the research and the spread of knowledge, especially as it relates to environmental science, we cannot grow as a species, we cannot be better stewards of the Earth, and we will never find a balance between ourselves and our environmental surroundings. All three of these are of the utmost importance if we are to continue to find success in the future. In a larger sense, knowledge and communication bring us together. A lack of those surely drives people apart. Pretty easy choice of what to pursue as far as I’m concerned,” Broussard said.

According to many researchers environmental science is important and has the power to help us understand the world, plants being just one of the many areas of research. Turns out plants are not just leaves swaying in the wind but are organisms that communicate and sometimes even participate in warfare.

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