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Science on Sundays: May 2024

Uncovering the microscopic world of mycorrhizal fungi. A talk by Dr Jen McGaley, Crop Science Centre, University of Cambridge.

  • 19th May 2024 - 19th May 2024
  • 2:30 pm - 3:00 pm

From exploring herbarium uses to discovering the secrets of wildflowers and fungi, come and discover the fascinating world of plant science in just 30 minutes! Science on Sundays is a free, informal and monthly series of talks, sharing the latest discoveries in plant science and research with our visitors.

What do you think of when you hear the word ‘fungus’? Mushrooms? Moulds? Diseases?  What about a maze of fungal filaments living in partnership with the plants all around you?

These are the arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi. They live underground, growing networks through the soil and inside plant roots. Their partnership with plants is underpinned by nutrition: the fungi deliver soil nutrients and water to the plant, while the plant supplies sugars and fats to the fungi. Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi are therefore hugely important in both natural and agricultural settings, but remain tricky to study because of their hidden and microscopic lifestyles.

This talk will show how time-lapse microscopy is being used to investigate the concealed lives and activities of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi in the roots of crop plants.

We will be running these talks live from the Botanic Garden Classroom for those visiting the Garden on the day.

Free with normal Garden admission.

Please check the website and social media for updates.

Suitable for adults and children aged 12+.

Talks run monthly March to August.


  • Assistance dogs welcome
  • Disabled Accessibility
  • wheelchair access

Accessibility Facilities

  • Assistance dogs welcome
  • Designated wheelchair public toilet
  • Wheel chair accessible

Did you know?

Cambridge is home to one of the most famous student theatre troupes in the world: the Footlights. Founded in the 1880s, some of the UK’s biggest stars were part of it, including John Cleese, Emma Thompson, Stephen Fry and Rowan Atkinson.