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Can Pest Insects Rescue Tea from Climate Change?

February 3 @ 9:00 am - 10:00 am

Eric Scott

Ph.D. Candidate in Biology 

What to Expect

It is well known that plants respond to stress through changes in secondary metabolites. However, less is known about how plants respond to a range of intensities of stressors or to combinations of stressors. Tea is produced from the young leaves of the tea plant (Camellia sinensis). The flavor, aroma, and health benefits of tea are determined by plant secondary metabolites such as caffeine, catechins, amino acids, and volatiles. As climate change intensifies, tea plants are experiencing increases in pest insect populations as a result of warmer weather and increasing frequency of drought. By understanding the complex metabolic response of tea plants under a range of herbivore intensities and in combination with drought, we can work toward developing strategies to improve crop quality in the face of climate change while furthering our understanding of plant-insect interactions under a range of natural conditions.

Speaker Bio

I am a Ph.D. candidate in the Biology department at Tufts University with an emphasis on chemical ecology. I’m interested in the mechanisms of plant defense as well as interactive effects of biotic and abiotic stresses on plant defense. My Ph.D. focus is on the effects of climate change and insect herbivory on the quality (flavor and health benefits) of tea (Camellia sinensis). In addition to studying tea, I am an avid tea drinker and practice gong fu cha (a Chinese way of preparing tea), and I enjoy using tea as a avenue for science communication.


Charuleka Varadharajan


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