Cycads Bring us Together

Facilitating an exciting investigation into photosynthesis.

An exciting collaboration is underway between the Variable Light and Atmosphere (VAL) lab, Trinity College Botanic Gardens and the National Botanic Gardens of Ireland. The VAL lab has borrowed a variety of Cycads from both botanic gardens. The plants hail from all three extant Cycad families including Cycadaceae, Stangeriaceae, and Zamiaceae, capturing current diversity across the group.

Evolving around 280 million years ago, Cycads are an ancient group of gymnosperms. Often termed ‘living fossils’, these plants have existed since before the appearance of dinosaurs. Once dominating ancient ecosystems, todays Cycad species are limited to tropical and subtropical regions.

Borrowed Cycads have been acclimated to pre-set conditions within the state-of-the-art CONVIRON climate control chambers available at the VAL lab. Temperature, humidity and light spectra and intensity have been set to simulate the tropical environments in which today’s cycads reside.

Dr. Christos Chondrogiannis and Katie O’Dea from the ERC funded TERRAFORM project are studying photosynthetic characteristics of this unique group. The study aims to deeper understand the evolution of this iconic biological process which enables plants to synthesize energy from light.

The VAL lab would like to thank Trinity College Botanic Gardens and the National Botanic Gardens of Ireland for facilitating this research.