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Natural Defenses of Plants (Video)

Scientists know that certain plants naturally produce chemicals to protect themselves. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada research scientist Chris Kirby is looking to identify those natural chemicals so that they can be used to protect other crops from fungus, insects, disease and bacteria.

Learn in this video how science is seeking natural solutions to pest management.

Video Transcript

[An image and a maple leaf appear on screen. This is the title graphic for the video.]

[Light, electronic music fades in.]

Text on screen: Natural Defences of Plants

[The video opens with a shot of a man wearing blue gloves taking flower samples from a group of plants.]

Narrator: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada research scientist Chris Kirby is looking for a new way to protect crops from fungus...

[The shot changes to show a close-up of the man wearing blue gloves taking flower samples from a group of plants.]

...insects, disease and bacteria. He thinks some of the answers will be found in these flowers and plants.

[Light, electronic music continues.]

[The shot changes to show a small plot of plants with purple flowers, commonly called Lupin.]

The project includes Lupins...

[The shot changes to show rows of plants with orange flowers, commonly called Nesturtiums.]

...nesturtiums...

[The shot changes to show a close up of a tall plant with light pink flowers, called Cleome.]

...cleome...

[The shot changes to show a close-up of a grass-like plant, called Sudan grass.]

...sudan grass...

[The shot changes to show tall plants with clusters of white flowers, called Buckwheat.]

...and buckwheat.

[The shot changes back to the man wearing blue gloves taking flower samples from a group of plants.]

[Light, electronic music continues.]

Plants that scientists know naturally produce chemicals to protect themselves.

[The shot changes to show two research assistants working in the test plots.]

Kirby and his team are putting these flowers, roots, stems and leaves...

[The shot changes to show a closer shot of one of the research assistants. She is cutting the roots off test plants and saving them in white containers.]

...through a process called phytochemical profiling...

[The shot changes to show a man wearing a lab coat working with scientific equipment in a laboratory.]

...to identify the key compounds. The goal is to discover the natural defences in these plants...

[The shot changes to a close-up of the equipment that the scientist was using.]

...extract the active chemicals, and see how they can protect crops.

[The shot changes to an extreme close-up of the equipment.]

[Light, electronic music continues.]

Kirby is starting to see some good things.

[The shot changes to show Dr. Chris Kirby standing in a laboratory, looking to camera.]

Text on screen: Dr. Chris Kirby, Physical Chemist, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Dr. Chris Kirby: Through the last year we've been able to do some preliminary tests on different fungal pathogens and we've got some good preliminary hits on crude extracts.

[The shot changes to a close-up of Cleome, a tall plant with light pink flowers.]

Narrator: So these flowers could be added to a crop rotation to act as a fumigant.

[The shot changes to a close-up of Lupin, a tall plant with light purple flowers.]

[Light, electronic music continues.]

Others may provide extracts that can be sprayed on a crop to keep insect numbers down.

[The shot changes to a close-up of Nesturtium, a low-growing plant with orange flowers.]

Dr. Chris Kirby: From an environmental point of view, we want to have safe stuff on our fields, always.

[The shot changes to show Dr. Kirby in a laboratory working with more scientific equipment.]

[Light, electronic music continues.]

So if we can find something safe as an alternative to some of the chemical pesticides it can be beneficial...

[The shot changes to show a close-up of Dr. Kirby holding three white containers. In each container are samples of the flowers that we've seen throughout the video.]

...both to the organic farmer and to the non-organic farmer.

[Fade to black.]

[Fade up from black.]

Text on screen: Modern. Innovative. Growing. Discover other agricultural innovations at www.agr.gc.ca.

[Light, electronic music fades out.]

Text on screen: Canada, © Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, as represented by the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food (2014).

[Fade to black.]

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