Plant Defense: The Eternal Battle with Animals and Pathogens

Presentation Details

Plants have evolved a large number of defense mechanisms by which they defend themselves. However, animals are constantly evolving to get around these tactics. The result is that plants and animals (and pathogens) are constantly in a coevolutionary arms race. Some of the plant mechanisms include physical defense, chemical defense, animal guard defense, and escape in time or space.

Many animals in Texas, especially livestock, are affected adversely by toxins each year. Even people are impacted negatively by certain plants that they incorrectly think are healthy for them to eat.

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Ecoregions Covered:
Central Great Plains, Chihuahuan Deserts, Cross Timbers, East Central Texas Plains, Edwards Plateau, Gulf Coast Prairies and Marshes, High Plains, Southern Texas Plains, Southwestern Tablelands, Texas Blackland Prairies, Western Gulf Coastal Plain

Presenter Information

  • George Diggs

    George Diggs is an evolutionary biologist and botanist who has taught for more than 40 years at Austin College in Sherman, and a Research Associate at the Botanical Research Institute of Texas.

    His research interests include the plants of Texas, evolution as it relates to human health, the systematics of the Ericaceae (Blueberry Family), and biogeography.

    He has co-authored four books, including The Ferns & Lycophytes of Texas, co-authored with Barney Lipscomb, and more than 30 scientific articles. In his research he has traveled to all seven continents. He helped found the Public Health program at Austin College and teaches Environmental and Evolutionary Health, including the impact of diet and toxins on human health.