The Surprises of the Sunflower

Benjamin K. Blackman Assistant Professor

Plant and Microbial Biology

Ben Blackman, UC Berkeley

Saturday, October 19, 2019 | 10:00am - 11:00am

100 Genetics & Plant Biology Building

Five thousand years ago, early farmers took a special interest in sunflowers. Through its continued cultivation since that time, the sunflower has evolved into an essential crop that permeates human life, whether in beautiful bouquets, as salty snacks, or as a primary source of cooking oil in many parts of the world. This lecture will examine how the sequencing of modern and archaeological genomes by Berkeley researchers is shedding new light on the biological and cultural history of the sunflower’s transformation through domestication. In addition, recent work revealing how and why sunflower stems track the sun will be discussed.

Speaker: Benjamin K. Blackman Assistant Professor, Plant and Microbial BiologyCurrent research in the Blackman Lab focuses on how plants respond to predictable seasonal and daily fluctuations in the environment and how these responses evolve during adaptation and domestication. In 2017, Benjamin K. Blackman was honored with the Botanical Society of America’s Emerging Leader Award. He is the current faculty advisor to the genetics and plant biology major and to Cal’s new undergraduate plant biology club, Planty Social. He received his Ph.D. at Indiana University, Bloomington and has taught at University of Virginia.