Oberle: Three basic life lessons from plants: Our relationship with plants is complicated

Herald Tribune   July 6, 2017
Think back to the last time you mowed your lawn. Considering the torrential summer afternoon rains, it was probably yesterday. How about the last time you felt the crunch of a salad?
Whether your last interaction with plants was a stroll down Selby Gardens’ paths or a daily dig into Southwest Florida’s sandy soil, our relationship with plants is complicated, sometimes onerous, and often plentiful, with visible cooperation and partnership between our two worlds.
As an assistant professor of biology at New College of Florida and research associate at the Missouri Botanical Garden and Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, I usually make my case for plants in scientific terms. By posing careful questions to extract patterns from data, I work with brilliant students and outstanding colleagues to understand how plants and fungi interact to regulate everything, from the timing of tree fall, to the tipping points in the global carbon cycle. If this sounds too technical, bear with me. As a recent transplant to Sarasota who has found vibrancy in a community full of great opportunities, I feel we can all relate to three basic lessons from plants.