Plant Science Bulletin archive
Issue: 1960 v6 No 2 Summer
PLANT SCIENCE BULLETIN
A Publication of the Botanical Society of America, Inc.
VOLUME 6 MARCH 1960 NUMBER 2
Plant Taxonomy Today I
WILLIAM C. STEERS
The New York Botanical Garden
Because I have some criticism, as well as praise, for plant taxonomy today, and since discretion is the better part of valor, it seems wise to emphasize my own long involvement in the general taxonomic field. I wish to make clear, too, that my criticisms are intended to be sympathetic and constructive, and are made, moreover, with the insight of one who has been a practitioner since his undergraduate days.
My paternal grandfather, a professor of zoology at the University of Michigan for many years, was a naturalist of the old school who, during his many travels over the face of the globe, collected not only birds, his primary interest, but also other animals, as well as plants. I grew up under the spell of my grandfather's reminiscences of his travels, his collections, his life and his thoughts during the Darwinian controversies. To him, taxonomy, classification, geographical distribution and evolution were the cornerstones of biology. This influence during my formative years was a lasting one, to such an extent that, in spite of the present low status of the word, I admit freely to being a naturalist—one who enjoys studying plants and populations of plants in their native habitats.
The renaissance in taxonomy during the past few decades and the development of the "New Systematics" has resulted from the transfusion into classical taxonomy of the data and the approaches of many other branches of biology, even biophysics. Thanks to the dynamic approach of outstanding systematists in studying the whole plant in all its manifestations, and to increasing support of research by national agencies, systematic biology is in better health than it has been for decades.
The very great importance of systematics in modern science has been emphasized recently by the "Report of the Committee on Systematic Biology of the American Institute of Biological Sciences." (1957) prepared at the request of the Divisional Committee for Biological and Medical Sciences of the National Science Foundation, and largely the work of the chairman, Ernst Mayr?
Simpson (1945) also summarized the ideal situation very well, in pointing out that "Taxonomy is at the same time the most elementary and the most inclusive part of biology."
(Condensed version of the Address of the Retiring President, Society of Plant Taxonomists, delivered at the Botanists' Dinner on December 29, 1959, at the annual meeting of the A.A.A.S., Chicago, Illinois.
'-Mimeographed; distributed by the National Science Foundation, 5957.
The enormous unifying force of systematics in botany and zoology gives it a transcendental importance as yet too little recognized and accepted generally. This situation leads me to a discussion of some of the factors and problems that still contribute to the low status and even to the rejection of taxonomy in some quarters.
If it were not for the negative implication, I might have entitled this discourse, "Problems in Plant Taxonomy To-day," since in searching for those approaches that will strengthen taxonomy, we are at the same time obliged to recognize and to modify the attitudes and activities that hinder our progresss. Our major problems and remaining symptoms of poor health seem to lie primarily in the special area of classical and traditional taxonomy, to which I shall therefore confine my remarks.
I emphasize especially the tendency of too many taxonomists to confuse with research that which is not research. Taxonomists could accomplish much more if they would devote their research time to doing research and not to a multitude of relatively less important things. In large areas of the world, the flora has still not been fully inventoried, much less studied carefully and made available to science through monographic or floristic publications and widely distributed seeds and specimens. This work urgently needs completion before further thousands of still unknown species disappear permanently, thanks to drainage, the clearing of virgin forests for the sake of agriculture, grazing, roads, or reservoirs, or through the inroads of fire, goats, rabbits, and other destructive forces. Even though these species may still eventually become extinct, we will at least have a record of them. Moreover, the availability of manuals and monographs for the major geographic regions of the world and for the major plant groups would do much to improve the status of plant taxonomy.
One area that offers taxonomists a fascinating diversion from the study of plants is nomenclature, with all its many turns and twists, and an emotional involvement with this subject seems to develop with surprising ease. Actually, little relation exists between the establishment of nomenclatural regulations and investigations in systematic botany. Nomenclature, and the codes that govern it, are only one means to an end, and not the end in itself. Systematic zoologists muddle through in a truly chaotic nomenclatural situation, with at least three competing and conflicting
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CHANGES OF ADDRESS: Notify the Treasurer of the Botanical Society of America, Inc., Dr. A. J. Sharp, Department of Botany, University of Tennessee, Knoxville 16, Tennessee.
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During the past five years, Plant Science Bulletin has been published on an occasional basis, with from four to six numbers issued each year. Many members of the Botanical Society think that we should publish at least six issues a year, and others feel that we should increase the frequency of publication. These beliefs are based upon the conviction that Plant Science Bulletin has an important role to play as a means of communication of ideas and professional problems among botanists. Recent issues indicate a wide range of interesting communications published, but it would seem that the Bulletin has not yet achieved its full potential value to the profession.
We are in need of a series of review articles summarizing recent advances in a number of active fields. Such reviews would not duplicate the more formal and extensive efforts of the review journals, but would serve to indicate, what in the opinion of leading authorities should be taught about the several fields in the light of recent discoveries. They would serve a valuable function in concisely presenting the main conclusions of recent and current research, thereby improving the chances that general biology and general botany courses would be kept up to date. We should be glad to receive such papers, short articles, or letters of comment from botanists who think that current textbooks and courses do not adequately incorporate the results of recent developments. We should also like to receive suggestions from teachers with regard to what fields are in need of discussion, and also, suggestions as to whom we might invite to comment on particular problems.
In universities and other institutions, and at various local, regional and national meetings, botanical lectures and seminars are held in which valuable ideas are presented that ought to be shared with botanists elsewhere. Good talks of a general botanical nature which we hear from our colleagues or from visitors should be suggested for publication in Plant Science Bulletin. In conversation or correspondence with our colleagues, we often develop ideas of real interest to botanists and these might be presented as short papers or letters of comment in the Bulletin. We should be glad to receive letters of comment, summaries, brief reports or actual lectures presented at various meetings, on topics of general interest to botanists.
Our news coverage could be expanded. We have had a number of favorable comments on the suggestion that we change from regional to institutional correspondents, and we have decided to make the change. In some cases, institutions or departments have already selected reporters for Plant Science Bulletin and we urge all other departments (or institutions) to do the same. We should appreciate knowing who the reporters are, and we look forward to receiving news and notes from them. We express our sincere thanks to the regional correspondents who have been so helpful in the past. We suggest that in addition to selecting an institutional reporter, botanists consider how their departments might increasingly contribute to Plant Science Bulletin in the interest of increasing communication among members of the profession.
The degree to which Plant Science Bulletin achieves its purpose as a vital professional organ depends upon the degree to which botanists contribute to it. We solicit your cooperation in this important venture.
S. S. G.
In Science for January 22, p. 235, van der Brugghen discussed possibilities of better bibliographic service. He pointed out the overlapping of present abstracting facilities and the desire of the user for information on specific problems or fields. Unfortunately, the latter has produced the present overlap and duplication.
We have Biological Abstracts which is an attempt at an overall coverage. My experience with this publication over its 34 years of its existence by no means supports his suggestion of "strength and vested interests." Such journals as Herbage Abstracts and lists of literature in various journals are a result of desires for more specific coverage—always to the loss of material not considered to fall within the special fields.
The problem certainly is complicated. The rapid increase of publications continually adds to difficulties of abstracting and indexing. Further troubles are restrictions on length of articles and urge to publish as soon as possible, also joint authorship and detailed description of special topics treated.
Somewhere, early in advanced study, each student should he required to do bibliographic work which would impress upon him the need for shorter (and fewer) titles. Superfluous words used to meet customary or approved style are an added strain upon the bibliographic burden. I had discussed this in Science, Aug. 23, r946.
O. A. STEVENS
N. D. Agr. Coll., Fargo, N.D.
Plant Taxonomy Today
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codes, and yet they turn out excellent and extensive taxonomic research. The idea of several hundred botanists spending four days in the Section of Nomenclature at the recent International Botanical Congress in Montreal was somewhat shocking to me, as a misdirection of time and energy. Squabbles and bickering arising from our undue emphasis on nomenclatural matters have undoubtedly done more to undermine the essential virtues of systematic botany and to establish a most unfortunate public image of taxonomists than any other single cause.
Although the primary and avowed aim of nomenclatural codes is to stabilize nomenclature, I see very little real hope of attaining this desirable goal with our present approach. Every international botanical congress revises nomenclatural regulations and makes necessary—and legitimate—the wholesale change of many familiar names. These name changes make for very bad public relations between botanists and those who not only need stable names, but have no intrinsic interest in nomenclature—as foresters, agronomists, horticulturists, and many others who accuse us not only of inconsistency but of irresponsibility.
To demonstrate to you that although mine may be a voice crying in the wilderness, it is not the only one, I shall quote briefly from the writings of three reputable taxonomists. In 1946, Carleton Ball (Science 103 (2685) : 713-714) said, "I will defy any person to compare the successive manuals of botany issued in the last roo years and produce any indication whatsoever that nomenclature is being stabilized. If the permanence of patent (priority) rights to a name never had been acknowledged in taxonomy, we would have had a stable nomenclature long since. As it is, all workers in botany have to learn a new set of names for most plants every 25 or 30 years. This not only is maddening, but absolutely unnecessary." Imagine Dr. Ball's blood pressure had he seen two relatively new revisions of the northeastern flora!
Lincoln Constance (Brittonia 7:225-231), on a similar occasion nearly ten years ago (1950) said, "On the whole .. . it is clear that the rise of such disciplines as plant physiology, ecology, morphology, arf3tomy, cytology, and genetics had very little direct impact upon the taxonomy of flowering plants. In the eyes of other biologists, at least, the fault of the taxonomists has been that they have continued along pretty much the same lines that were predominant in 1900, and thus divorced themselves from the newer, pulsating currents of biological thought. Taxonomists must, for the most part, have accepted the current conceptions of organic evolution, but they appear to have kept their minds so compartmentalized that their classifications remain as rigid as though they had been drawn up in complete innocence of Darwinism, . . . constructive work was considerably disturbed by squabbles over nomenclature, a dissension which doubtless served to estrange him even further from the sympathy of his biological colleagues. Concentration on exploratory work, shared in by both professionals and amateurs, occasionally led to a ridiculous emphasis on the discovery and ownership of novelties which, in turn, brought on unwholesome competition for "new species" and polemics concerning differing concepts of genera and species. The taxonomist thus tended, it seems to me, to become more and more aloof from his colleagues, who resented the expense of the upkeep of his often unplanned and uncorsetted herbaria, and were inclined to leave him in splendid isolation except when a precise identification was required."
Fortunately, the bitter jealousies of previous generations over ownership of plant and animal names have waned, and the outright robbery of one man's collection of fossils or other specimens by a competing specialist is no longer condoned as good clean fun or even an amusing practical joke. Many times during my youth I heard the story of how, with the aid of customs officials, the Marquis of Tweeddmuir, a dilettante in ornithology, "hijacked' the magnificent collection of bird skins my grandfather had laboriously made in the Philippines in the early 187o's and had intended to study at the British Museum.
Today, perhaps because more taxonomists are full-time workers with a more professional outlook, and perhaps of the increasing difficulties in publishing long taxonomic papers, the publication of nevv taxa is coming to be considered as a necessary evil or as a necessary occupational hazard, rather than as a personal triumph. Dr. Henry Allan Gleason, the first president of our Society, tells the allegory of finding an ancient tome on one of the top shelves in the library of The New York Botanical Garden, a book that contained many names predating those in current usage, and that would have justified numerous new combinations. His solution to the problem illuminates the nature of the man. He put the book back on the shelf, climbed down the ladder and went quietly away!
Aside from furnishing ammunition for the detractors of taxonomy, perhaps the greatest disadvantage of nomenclatural codes at present is that they lack totally any provision for enforcement, and illegitimate or unnecessary names cannot be ignored or discarded—they become a part of the permanent reference literature. "Since time immemorial," as the lawyer says, laws have had to be enforced, else they were ineffectual. As a result of this fact, nomenclatural codes are honored as much in the breach as in the observance. We find, for example, non-observance of the international code of botanical nomenclature by certain groups of mycologists, both in this country and abroad, with consequent published polemics. We see the development of individualistic usages, nationalistic interpretations and withdrawal from portions of the code in treatments of other groups of plants.
I should emphasize that these remarks are in no way to be interpreted as criticisms of my colleagues at The New York Botanical Garden. A half-century ago, of course, the situation was different—the Garden became a maverick in
the taxonomic world through its development and sponsor-ship of the ill-fated American Code. Today, because of the energetic and effective work of W. H. Camp and H. W. Rickett, the Garden has become the American center of orthodoxy in international nomenclature. As a result of Rickett's expert knowledge and full understanding of the intricacies and ramifications of the code of botanical nomenclature, his colleagues turn to him for help and advice in-stead of trying to unravel all the knotted problems them-selves.
One does not have to be a lawyer to live within the law, among a maze of ordinances and regulations that he did not help legislate, or to be a minister to live a righteous and ethical life—but we do need a certain small proportion of lawyers and ministers in our population. A large participation by botanists in the formulation of highly technical legislation may on the surface appear to be democratic, but in actuality, as is easily demonstrated by the confused and rambling discussions at botanical congresses, it can lead to a species of anarchy.
It is my proposal, then, that taxonomists select a small but highly competent group of specialists on botanical nomenclature, and leave the responsibility for the code and all the details of its administration to this group—perhaps the present general committee of the International Association for Plant Taxonomy, if necessary with advisory subcommittees representing special plant groups with special problems. It may be more than a coincidence that a very good paper on "Names for Cultivated Plants," in a recent issue (October, 1959) of the National Horticultural Magazine, is by a lawyer, Frederic P. Lee— also an expert on cultivated plants, of course. A group of legal specialists could even be employed as consultants, to whom unusual or especially difficult nomenclatural problems could be referred.
An important question: What can we do to put teeth into the provisions of a nomenclatural code and how do we bring about some restraining influence on botanists who become trigger-happy in creating new taxa? I sense the anguish of some of my colleagues who fear that their own independence of action might be infringed upon—but would it be? In what other field of science can an inexperienced amateur or an incompetent professional publish results of little value, on his own press if he so wishes, that nevertheless must be accepted and placed on reference together with honest and reliable work—and, worst of all, results that place the onus of testing on an-other scientist? Personally, I would much rather have had a small but effective legislative group determining policy and exerting discipline when needed, than wasting so much of my research time through the years in attempting to discover the real identity of "new species" of American mosses created hastily, unnecessarily, for personal aggrandizement by a half-dozen European botanists who never studied the plants in the field. Professional botanists might adopt the aphorism that the law-abiding citizen need not fear the law.
A quarter of a century ago (1935), Karl Wiegand (Science 81 (2094) : 161-166), in his address as retiring vice-president and chairman of Section G, AAAS, said : "I, personally, belong to that benighted group of taxonomists, who believe that new species should not be proposed as such until the author can not reach any other conclusion. Is it not our duty to science, to workers in other fields and to our fellow taxonomists not to clutter up our subject with endless names and half-baked concepts which seem only to confuse and to cause resentment and to pass the buck? The science of taxonomy stands too low now in the estimation of general workers." Any thoughtful taxonomist must agree that these remarks, alas, are still true.
Every taxonomist has had to spend too much of his time in routine work, for lack of sufficient assistance. This is an enormous waste of professional manpower. I regret now the years of my life in the aggregate, spent in writing labels, sorting and packeting specimens, wrapping packages, typing manuscript and other sorts of non-productive work. With adequate stenographic and technical help through the years, I could have accomplished more and better work, with much less sense of frustration. Fortunately, the National Science Foundation now furnishes a growing source of re-search funds for heretofore under-supported taxonomists. Any able botanist who really knows what he wants to do in taxonomic research and who has original ideas is almost certain of support. I recommend most warmly that every bright young professional taxonomist be urged by his department head to apply for financial support, in order to remove from his shoulders the burden of routine, non-productive work that too many taxonomists have had to accept meekly for too long. Even though everyone will not receive a grant on his first try, he can console himself for a failure by knowing that the total amount of funds requested by systematists will help determine the annual budget allocated to the Program Director for Systematic Biology.
Other fields of botany have standardized their techniques in such a manner that trained technicians can do much of the routine work and leave the scientist free to plan, to think, and to write. The advance of other branches of botany ahead of taxonomy is in part attributable to the clearer discrimination between what is research and what can be done by an assistant. Since the recruitment of much-needed and able new personnel in taxonomy depends in large part on the attractiveness of what today's taxonomists are doing, I recommend strongly that we rid ourselves as far as possible of all the time-consuming busy work and mechanical odd jobs that are too often confused with taxonomic research.
A final problem that I want to touch upon, and a major problem because it weakens the united front so imperative for taxonomy, is the lack of coherence and of a sense of relationship between specialists working on phanerogams and on cryptogams. To the phanerogamic botanist, the word taxonomy connotes vascular plants. This is no criticism or recrimination, I hasten to add, as the fault is completely on the heads of the crytogamic botanists, who have isolated themselves in specialized societies and have left taxonomy, by defaut, to the phanerogamists. I applaud the
establishment of the American Society of Plant Taxonomists, and the determined and increasing efforts the Society has made since its inception to bring cryptogamic botanists into an integrated field of taxonomy. No other means exists at present by which taxonomists in this country can be unified. I also note the inclusion of cryptogamic botanists on the Council of the Society each year, and the election to the presidency of a bryologist shows unusual good will and an unexpected and public-spirited tolerance. I assure you that I shall do everything in my power to en-courage the bringing together of taxonomists, regardless of specialty, into a position of greater strength for all.
In conclusion, I realize fully that some of my colleagues, especially those of my own generation, will take exception to my criticism of an over-developed ritualism and fetishism in our field. My real message, however, is that we must at-tempt to stand back objectively, to see clearly and with correct perspective what is good for plant taxonomy, what will advance its progress most effectively, and what will relate it more closely with the mainstream of the whole field of Botany.
GROWTH, MOLECULE, CELL
World renowned scientists from England, France, Belgium, Denmark, Canada, and the United States will pre-sent a symposium on "Growth" at Purdue University June 16-17-18, 1960.
The international symposium will be sponsored by the departments housed in the University's new $1r-million Life Science building. These are the departments of agronomy, animal science, biological sciences, and botany and plant pathology. A popular dedication involving state officials, educators, and high school students was held last September 18-19.
Under the title of "Growth," the forthcoming symposium will deal with the basic patterns of living organisms, and how they multiply and grow in number or grow in size. Following discussions of basic cellular and tissue growth on Thursday and Friday, the program for the final day will consist of sectional meetings on animal, microbial, and plant growth, and the relationship of soils to growth.
Two popular evening lectures have been planned in addition to the 31 scientific papers. On Friday evening, June 17, Dr. James F. Bonner, noted plant physiologist at the California Institute of Technology, who has worked extensively with plant hormones, will speak on "The Biology of Plant Growth." Saturday evening, Dr. Ancel Keys, director of the famed laboratory of physiological hygiene at the University of Minnesota, will speak on "Changes with Aging." His outstanding work with scientific groups in North and South America has included nutrition studies on starvation problems, of special interest to the armed services.
Following a welcoming address by Dr. Frederick L. Hovde, president of Purdue, on Wednesday morning, Dr. Francis H. C. Crick, of the chemistry department, University of Cambridge, England, will present the first paper in a series devoted to the growth of the molecule, cell and organism. Noted for his studies of how the molecule is put together and its relationship to heredity, Dr. Crick will speak on "The Synthesis of Nucleic Acid."
Others who will present papers on the opening day include Dr. M. B. Hoagland, of the Huntington Memorial Hospital, Boston, Mass., who discovered how heredity is transmitted into enzymes which regulate cell activity; Prof. Daniel Mazia, of the department of zoology, University of California, who isolated the biological machinery which causes cells to divide, and Dr. Theodore T. Puck, of the University of Colorado Medical Center, who will discuss aspects of mammalian cell growth in tissue culture.
Discussions of basic growth patterns in molecules, cells and organisms will continue all day Friday with six papers being presented. Prof. A. A. Moscona, University of Chicago, will speak on tissue reconstruction from dissociated cells; Prof. Maurice Sussman, Brandeis University, Waltham, Mass., on cellular differentiation in slime mold; and Prof. Jean Brachet, University Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium, on the role of ribonucleic acid in the structural development of an organism.
Dr. Claude W. Wardlaw, the George Harrison professor of botany at the University of Manchester, England, who for 12 years was in charge of the low temperature research station for the Imperial College of Tropical Agriculture, Trinidad, B.W.I., and who has done much work on the growth of ferns and diseases of bananas, will discuss the development of flowering plants. Dr. Armin C. Braun, who received his Ph.D. degree from the Institute de Pasteur in Paris and who has done outstanding research on the cause of tumor formation in plants, now an associate member of the Rockefeller Institute, New York, will speak on the plant tumor problem. Prof. Marcus Singer, of the department of zoology at Cornell University, widely known for his work on the healing of wounds and the regeneration of limbs, will describe recent progress in this field.
In the sectional meeting on animal growth, Saturday, June 18, Dr. Carroll M. Williams, biological laboratories, Harvard University, will discuss the changes which occur in the life cycle of insects, as well as their flight and breathing, as related to growth. Dr. Thomas H. Jukes, director of chemical research, American Cyanamid Company, Stamford, Conn., who has worked with the vitamin and anti-biotic requirements of chickens, turkeys and other species, will speak on vitamins, antibiotics, and growth. Dr. Vic-tor A. Drill, G. D. Searle and Company, Skokie, Ill., who speaks on steroids and growth, has done research on liver damage, vitamin hormone interrelationships, and experimental shock. John Hammond, Cambridge, England, British "elder scientist" in the field of farm animal growth, who will speak on this topic, directed research on cattle breeding and meat production in many parts of the world. He once taught at Iowa State College and recently retired at Cambridge University. Prof. Ernst Knobil, department of physiology, Harvard Medical School, has studied the growth hormone in monkeys. Dr. Gregory G. Pincus, who will speak on hormones and aging, has been director of the laboratories of the Worcester Foundation for Experimental Biology, Shrewsbury, Mass., since 1944.
An American born woman scientist who with her hus-
band directs a medical laboratory in France, Mrs. Harriet Ephrussi-Taylor, of the Labratoire de Genetique Physiologique, Gif-Sur Yvette, France, will open the program for the microbiological section with a talk on the transforming principles of microorganisms. Prof. Seymour S. Cohen, University of Pennsylvania, will discuss viruses that attack bacteria. Prof. Arthur B. Pardee, biochemist at the University of California, will deal with enzyme feedback and the regulation of metabolism. Dr. E. Zeuthen, of the Carlsberg Foundation, Copenhagen, Denmark, will report on the synchronous growth of protozoa. Prof. Aaron Novick, University of Oregon, who did pioneering work at the University of Chicago in developing a chemostat which allows the scientist to observe continuous growth of a microorganism, will give a paper on bacteria with high specific enzyme levels. Prof. H. O. Halvorson, head of the division of biological sciences at the University of Illinois, and past president of the Society of American Bacteriologists, who was a pioneer in the study of bacteria infesting water and sewage, will discuss the formation of spores in the microbe, relating to such things as diseases and food spoilage.
The plant and soils section will hold a joint meeting on Saturday morning and separate sessions in the afternoon. Speakers for the joint session will include Prof. Hans Jenny, a native of Switzerland, now of the University of California, on soil-plant relations; Prof. Pierre Dansereau, head of the botany department, University of Montreal, Canada, on the origin and growth of plant communities; and Prof. F. C. Steward, of Cornell University, who was born and educated in England, on the growth and nutrition of plant cells.
The afternoon program for the plant section will feature Dr. Frits W. Went, director of the Missouri Botanic Gar-dens at St. Louis, speaking on the effects of light and temperature on plant growth; Prof. Glenn W. Pound, head of plant pathology at the University of Wisconsin, on abnormal growth of plants due to disease; Dr. G. E. Blackman, of the University of Oxford, England, who discovered that the time plants spend in darkness is equally important to the time spent in light, will speak on plant responses to environmental factors.
For the soils section, speakers will include Prof. A. Geoffrey Norman, director of the radiation laboratories at the University of Michigan, formerly an English biochemist, on the biological environment of roots; Prof. C. E. Marshall, University of Missouri, also English and an internationally-known colloid chemist, on the chemistry of the soil in relation to plant nutrition; and Prof. M. B. Russell, head of the agronomy department at the University of Illinois since 1951, speaking on physical conditions of soils such as aeration and moisture as they affect plant growth.
General chairman for the Life Science building dedication is Dr. J. B. Peterson, head of the Department of Agronomy at Purdue. The building contains approximately eleven and one half acres of floor space and has 75o rooms. Further information may be obtained about the scientific symposium from its program chairman, Dr. M. X. Zarrow, Department of Biological Sciences, Life Science Building, Purdue University, Lafayette, Indiana.
NEWS AND NOTES
Oswald Tippo, Eaton Professor of Botany and Chairman of the Department of Botany at Yale University has been named Provost of the University of Colorado at Boulder. As Provost, Dr. Tippo will serve as the senior dean and chief academic officer of the university with broad supervisory duties and the responsibility for the general academic administration of the university. The appointment will be-come effective on July i, 196o.
James Maniotis, who recently completed the requirements for the Ph.D. degree at the State University of Iowa, Iowa City, has joined the staff of the Department of Botany of the University of Texas, as Instructor in Botany. Dr. Maniotis, a student of Professor C. J. Alexopoulos, is a mycologist.
Ralph E. Alston will rejoin the Department of Botany at the University of Texas on June 15, 1960, as Assistant Professor of Botany. A new graduate course, Advanced Topics in Plant Systematics will be offered during the summer session by Professors Alston and Turner. This course will emphasize the application of biochemical techniques to the elucidation of problems in systematics.
William L. Stern of the School of Forestry at Yale University has been appointed Curator, Division of Woods, U. S. National Museum, Smithsonian Institution, Washington 25, D. C. Dr. Stern will assume his new post on June r, r96o.
News from the Department of Botany of the
Alan Conger recently spent a week in Puerto Rico taking part in a symposium sponsored by the National Academy of Science on the comparative effects of various kinds of radiation.
Ted Holmsen has been awarded the $5000.00 General Biological Supply House scholarship for 196o-1961. He recently was awarded one of the two prizes given to graduate students for presenting a Meritorious Paper before the American Society of Plant Physiologists at Birmingham, Alabama.
R. D. Powell has been elected secretary of the Southern Section of the American Society of Plant Physiologists.
Yoneo Sagawa recently received a grant from the American Orchid Society for the investigation of basic problems in the Orchidaceae. In conjunction with this project, Dr. Dorothy Niimoto has joined the Department as a post-doctoral fellow.
W. M. Dugger, Jr., has accepted a position as Research Physiologist at the Riverside Experiment Station of the University of California.
Carl Monk received a grant from the National Science Foundation for a three-year study of radial tree growth.
The Department of Botany has been informed by the Board of Control that it is now authorized to conduct pro-grams of study leading to the Ph.D. degree. The Department has been awarded four graduate fellowships by the Department of Education, Health and Welfare which are to be made available to doctoral candidates.
Second Summer Botany Conference for
The National Science Foundation has granted the University of North Carolina a three-week summer Botany Conference for College Teachers of General Botany and General Biology. The Conference will be held in Chapel Hill August 1-19, 1960, and is designed to provide a selected group of instructors of introductory courses in botany or biology with information about recent developments in certain areas of botany, the ultimate goal being the enrichment and improvement of the botanical content of introductory courses.
Any person teaching at least one section of general botany or general biology in a college or junior college is eligible to apply for a stipend. Those selected for participation in the Conference will be awarded a stipend of $200 and a travel allowance of 4 cents per mile. The stipend will be more than adequate to cover the cost of attending the Conference. A brochure of information about the Conference and application forms may be secured from the Conference Director, Dr. Victor A. Greulach, Box 1268, Chapel Hill, N. C.
Two non-credit short courses will be offered, one in plant physiology and one in plant evolution. The lecturers in the plant physiology course will be Dr. Aubrey W. Naylor of Duke University on plant growth, Dr. Howard J. Teas of the University of Florida on the biochemistry and physiology of DNA, RNA and protein synthesis, and Dr. N. E. Tolbert of Michigan State University on photosynthesis and respiration. All lecturers on plant evolution are from the University of North Carolina. Dr. C. Ritchie Bell will lecture on cytogenetics and evolution, Dr. J. E. Adams on the evolutionary significance of certain morphological features of vascular plants, and Dr. Wm. J. Koch on the evolutionary significance of some recent mycological research.
The six or more evening lecturers will include Dr. John N. Couch of the University of North Carolina, Dr. Paul J. Kramer and Dr. Henry J. Oosting of Duke University, and Dr. L. A. Whitford of N. C. State College. Dr. A. E. Radford will conduct a field trip to the coast or mountains of North Carolina.
Sfiring Wildflower Pilgrimage
The Department of Botany of The University of Tennessee announces that the Tenth Annual Spring Wild-flower Pilgrimage will be held in the Great Smoky Mountains at Gatlinburg, Tennessee, April 28, 29, 30, 1960. Wild-flower, fern and moss hikes, bird walks, and motorcades led by competent botanists and naturalists, and illustrated lectures are available to the public. These meetings have been attended not only by amateurs but by professionals from all over the United States and some from foreign countries. Those wishing further information should write to Department W.P., Post Office Box 208, Gatlinburg, Tennessee.
Summer 1960 Program of The University of
The University of Michigan Biological Station again will offer a strong field program in plant science at Pellston in northern Michigan during the 1960 session of June r8 to August 13. Courses in freshwater algae, lichens, bryophytes, aquatic flowering plants, taxonomy of higher plants, plant ecology and forest ecology will be taught by Professors F. K. Sparrow, Elzada U. Clover and Robert Zahner of The University of Michigan, A. J. Sharp of The University of Tennessee and J. E. Cantlon of Michigan State University. They also will direct research in these fields and on aquatic fungi. In addition to the botanical work, eleven courses in Zoology and research on all of the major taxonomic groups of animals and major ecological situations will be conducted by nine eminent professors from seven separate universities. All of the work will be centered on organisms in their natural situations.
A limited number of grants-in-aid, made possible by The National Science Foundation, and other donors will be available on a competitive basis to both undergraduate and graduate applicants seeking financial help.
If interested, write to The University of Michigan Biological Station, 2129 Natural Science Building, Ann Arbor, Michigan.
The Massachusetts Horticultural Society has announced it has awarded its Jackson Dawson Medal to Professor Karl Sax, Visiting Professor of Botany at Yale University. This medal is awarded for skill in the science and practice of hybridization and propagation of hardy woody plants. The citation of the Society reads: "To Dr. Karl Sax, retired, formerly of this area, Professor of Botany at Harvard from 1935 to 1959, former Director of the Arnold Arboretum, author, lecturer and a plant breeder of note, and presently a visiting professor at Yale University."
Edgar Anderson, Engelmann Professor of Botany and Curator of Useful Plants at the Missouri Botanical Garden was one of the seven long time faculty members at Washington University at St. Louis who received faculty awards at Founders Day ceremonies on February 21, commemorating the 1o7th anniversary of the founding of the University. Professor Anderson has been associated with Washington University and the Missouri Botanical Garden since 1922.
Request for Gnetum
Robert J. Rodin, Biological Sciences Department, California State Polytechnic College, San Luis Obispo, California is seeking herbarium specimens, preserved (FFA) material, and seeds of any species of Gnetum. He is willing to purchase these, or obtain them by exchange for herbarium specimens of California plants, or he would be glad to collect other material for exchange. Professor Rodin also wishes to establish communication with other scientists working on any of the Gnetales.
Treatment of Evolution in Elementary Botany
HARLAN P. BANKS
Some years ago I began to worry about the ineffectiveness of teaching mitosis relatively early in a botany course when students were still unprepared to appreciate its intricacies and its significance. My solution to the dilemma has been to include it in a laboratory exercise along with meiosis, the one process with which it is intimately associated. This exercise, for us, is the first one in the second term of a year course. It follows a term devoted to structure, function and reproduction in Angiospermae. It precedes a study of the Plant Groups.
This arrangement opened up further interesting possibilities. I have been worried too because students find some of our notions about the evolution (phylogeny) of the groups of plants a little far-fetched no matter how well we present the case. A thoroughly interesting solution is to follow the Mitosis-Meiosis Exercise by one or more on Genetics. Students are then prepared to follow arguments that some groups have been derived from others by gradual changes.
In the exercise on Mitosis-Meiosis one can emphasize the place each occupies in a life cycle and the part each plays in the life cycle by giving the students the opportunity to smear both tips and microsporocytes. Of course not all students are successful but some are and their preparations can be examined by all. The work on mitosis and meiosis provides the first elements of an understanding of duplication and variation.
The work on Genetics is based on the principles of UN-
DERSTANDABILITY and PREDICTABILITY in inheritance. These
principles can be developed both in lecture and in laboratory. Additional interest is aroused if some human characters are used to supplement plant characters. Simple brown and blue eyes, for example, can interest quickly a student who does not care how many red flowers some plant unknown to him may produce. In lecture a presentation of the DNA molecule can he used to illustrate the physical basis of an understanding of SELF-DUPLICATION and VARIATION. The level at which DNA is presented can vary with the teacher and the quality or training of his class. If necessary it can be very simple yet clear and logical.
From the four principles listed above, the student can proceed to a study of the interrelationships of the groups of plants with some confidence that we have an objective basis for our statements. Of course most teachers will also want to go into problem of speciation involving isolation, bottlers and the like. I prefer to delay this until, at the end of second term, we are working in the field on identification. It gives an opportunity to expand on the principles develoned at the start of the term and to summarize all of the approaches to an understanding of Evolution.
If the schedule permits, I think it very desirable to follow the presentation of DNA molecule by hypotheses of Origin of Earth and Origin of Life. This subject is stimulating to student and teacher alike. The finest clear, concise, and provocative summary of this subject that I know of is available in pamphlet form. It is: Beadle, G. W. "The Physical and Chemical Basis of Inheritance." Condon Lectures. Oregon State System of Higher Education. Eugene, Oregon. 1957. This 47-page publication can be purchased from the University of Oregon Press for a dollar. From Beadle's lectures one may derive many other ideas for the presentation of related subjects. I know of few books in which one can find so many challenging ideas in so small a space. In addition it contains an extremely useful bibliography, one to which students can be referred for additional reading and topics for term papers.
I have been told that one can not teach the first term of Botany without teaching Mitosis. Our solution to this problem is simply to refer freely and naturally to the division of cells but with no additional details. If any student is seriously worried, the details of mitosis are available in the textbook and in most books they appear in an early chapter. For us this approach works.
American Society of Plant Taxonomists
Officers of the American Society of Plant Taxonomists for Ig6o are as follows: Lyman Benson (Pomona College), President; C. Ritchie Bell (University of North Carolina), Secretary: Richard W. Pohl (Iowa State University), Treasurer; Mildred E. Mathias (U. C. L. A.), Chairman of the Council; Charles B. Heiser (Indiana University) new member of the Council; David D. Keck (National Science Foundation), retiring member of the Council.
A paper entitled "Cytological Evidence on the Relation-ship of Krigia and Serinia," by Kenton L. Chambers, Assistant Professor of Botany at Yale University. received the ASPT George R. Cooley Award of $100 for the best taxonomv paper presented at the annual meeting of the Society in Chicago, December 1949. A paper by Julian A. Miller, T. E. Giddens, and A. A. Foster, "A Survey of the Fungi of Forest and Cultivated Soils of Georgia" (Mvcologia 49: 77q-8o8, Nov: Dec. 1957, but actually published in 1948). was selected for the ASPT $5oo Cooley Award for the hest taxonomic paper. concerning southeastern plants, published in 1958.
The 1960 ASPT meeting will he held in August, with the American Institute of Biological Sciences, at Oklahoma State University.
The Botanical Society of America will hold its Annual Meeting for the year 196o with the American Institute of Biological Sciences. at Oklahoma State University, Still-water, Oklahoma. The meeting dates have been officially set as Sunday August ?8 through Thursday September r. 1960.