By Susan Abernathy
Mandy says it’s short for Adventitious Roots, but I think AR stands for Adventitious Researchers. The Oxford English Dictionary defines adventitious as “coming from outside, not native”. This definition fits the current grove of researchers that Dr Rasmussen has transplanted from across the globe into the AR lab. Six of the seven continents have been represented in this AES arboretum over the past seven years at the University of Nottingham and only Antarctica has escaped so far. If you’re reading this and have penguin-esque tendencies, I know of a lab that may be a good fit for you!
Adventitious researchers have emerged from unexpected places like Nigeria, India, Spain, Columbia, Bangladesh, Italy, Germany, Australia, and the US in the way that adventitious roots appear in unusual locations along a stem or leaf. Some of these researchers have barely rooted staying only a short time, while others have stayed several seasons leaving well developed pathways for others to follow. Additionally, Mandy has planted some native UK researchers as well to mix among the transplants that help maintain homeostasis in this everchanging grove in the midlands of England.
Adventitious roots have subgroups that form in different ways and under different stresses. Each adventitious researcher has distinct experiences that they bring to the AR lab that make this grove truly unique. Some researchers support and brace others, growing close to the ground, while others reach out for new holdings high above the rest that stretch the group in new and interesting directions. Still other researchers are more cryptic in their behaviour as they seem to hang in the air not really reaching for anything, all the while absorbing all that they need directly from the air itself.
I am one of a few newly transplanted members of this grove. We have settled into our new environment like re-potted shoots, over the last 6 months. In that time, I have seen some amazing teamwork and unity in the AR lab simultaneously with seasoned researchers migrating to new fields and new transplants just beginning to root. Growing in this unique setting is a very rewarding experience where the diversity adducts with each member. Some of these experiences include different approaches to performing experiments and others involve solving problems. Working together as one lab though, while each member focuses on a different project works to everyone’s benefit because like a colony, information learned on one side of the grove can be sent to members on the other side, preparing them for the best response to external stimuli, environmental stresses, and perceived herbivory!
Sometimes adventitious roots need to be induced to grow where they wouldn’t otherwise emerge. Mandy has harvested staff and post-docs from Australia, Brazil, and Sri Lanka who work additional projects as well as guide new transplants into shooting. These pairings develop into mycorrhizal-like symbiosis where each benefit from the other. On one side there is resource allocation and on the other, the availability of carbon units on which to induce the desired response. In both cases, this results in a healthy equilibrium of exchange and growth within the grove.
As an American living in England, learning the differences between the two countries has proven to be surprising as well as entertaining. Many words are familiar to both countries but have differences in meaning and use. Some are obvious like pound, chips, crisps, tea, post, carriage, bonnet, lifts, and braces. Others were unexpected such as faculty, staff, professor, and college. Some words mean the same in both countries but are pronounced differently like oregano, banana, tomato, potato, pasta, basil, and contribute. Some words mean the same and only the spelling differs such as color, tire, program, and behavior. In addition to words, there are other differences in everyday things that tend to be opposite. Driving is the obvious one with all things left rather than right. However, light switches go down rather than up, doors open out, rather than in, or in rather than out, depending on the location. Rather than opposite, floor numbers in buildings are one number off and one only has to remember to add ‘up’ to understand that 1 floor up is the second floor and ground floor is below ground. Even with the differences between our “common” language and customs, some of my co-workers are having quite another experience. To them, EVERYTHING is different, even the trees!
Sue would like to acknowledge the contributions of Khalad Mosharaf to this article.