Director Susan Ustin on the Evolutionary History of Seed Plants
Susan Ustin's groundbreaking work on plant spectra was recently published in the New Phytologist Journal. This work utilized a large data set of various plant species and focused on the plant's reflectance spectra--that is the wavelength of light the leaves reflect. This varies among species and Ustin's recent study suggests we can now use this as a way to identify broad plant groups. Furthermore, plant spectra can be used to trace plant's phylogeny. A phylogeny tells us which plants are most closely related and allow us to understand the evolution of species much more clearly. This work has huge implications for understanding leaf evolution and plant phylogenetics on a global scale.