Plant Science Bulletin archive
Issue: 1991 v37 No 2 Summer
PLANT SCIENCE BULLETIN
A Publication of the Botanical Society of America, Inc.
VOLUME 37, NUMBER 2, SUMMER 1991
Table of Contents
News from the Society, the Sections and the Committees
PLANT SCIENCE BULLETIN is printed on recycled paper
Volume 37, Number 2: Summer 1991
Editor: Meredith A. Lane McGregor Herbarium, University of Kansas 2045 Constant Ave., Lawrence KS 66047 913/864-4493 FAX: 913/864-5298 bitnet: MLANE@UKANVAX internet: firstname.lastname@example.org
Plant Science Bulletin
News from the Society, the Sections and the Committees
BALLOT RESULTS: Change Article I, Don't Change Name
A RECENT BALLOT sent to the membership of the Society contained two questions, one an official vote to amend or not Article I of the By-laws of the Botanical Society of America, Inc., and one a straw poll to ascertain the opinions of the membership about a possible change in the name of the Society. David Dilcher, Past President of the Society, tallied the ballots on both issues, and reports the results, with comments provided by some members:
1) Amendment of Article I of the By-laws: 500 members (92% of those voting) approved the amendment. Article I now reads: 'The Botanical Society of America, Incorporated (hereinafter called "The Society") is organized under the laws of the state of Connecticut as a corporation without capital stock, not for business or profit, but only for scientific and educational purposes.
The MISSION of The Society is to promote botany, the field of basic science dealing with the study and inquiry into the form, function, diversity, reproduction, evolution, and uses of plants and their interactions within the biosphere. To accomplish this mission, the OBJECTIVES of The Society are to: sustain and provide improved formal and informal education about plants; encourage basic plant research; provide expertise, direction, and position statements concerning plants and ecosystems; and foster communication within the professional botanical community, and between botanists and the rest of humankind through publications, meetings, and committees."
Commentary on this issue included these remarks: "I am abstaining from voting on Article I as amended as this and the former are somewhat defective in this, the end of the 20th century, with the plant world being hacked to pieces at an alarming rate. Article I should, in my opinion, contain a statement that allows for interaction between basic and applied research as this is the theme today. One of the other purposes should be to stimulate interest in the collection, propagation and distribution of threatened, endangered, and rare plants. The collection of these plants for the augmentation of herbarium collections should be discouraged..."
..."I have been a member for ca. 55 years. In that time botany has had its ups and downs. I never before heard it proposed that BSA had a mission to promote botany, and I doubt that the society has the structure or the means to do anything significant along those lines."
"...Much too political." ... "Yes! An accurate, proper, lucid statement. Thanks!" ... "I'd prefer to say 'The general mission' or 'specific objectives' because mission and objectives are really synonymous." ... "Change within on line 6 to with ([plants] can't interact outside the bio-sphere). My point about 'with' is not a small one. The idea is surely that plants inter-act with the external environment (i.e. the biosphere). As it stands, the 'within' seems to mean that the plants interact with each other, within the limits of the biosphere." ... "Thanks for allowing me to respond on these important issues." ... "This is much ado about nothing." ...'This is an excellent statement and a big improvement." ... "The revised Article I sounds like a campaign speech—waffling and full of hot air. With the exception of one 'sustain and provide', the objectives are to 'encourage', 'provide expertise', and 'foster'. There's precious little commitment in those words! Is there anything more rhetorical and less useful than a 'position statement'? In comparison, the present article I objectives are to 'serve', 'support', 'provide opportunities', 'furnish', and 'accept and administer'. A 'current and forward-looking statement' of mission and objectives should not succumb to modern political melodrama, in which more words make fewer promises. " ... "Pure window dressing, but OK." ... "Much improved." ... "I am lukewarm about this matter. Was it really necessary to spell 'mission' with capital letters? An excess of missionary zeal can be obnoxious!"
PLANT SCIENCE BULLETIN (ISSN 0032-0919) is published quarterly by the Botanical Society of America, Inc., 1735 Neil Ave., Columbus, OH 43210. Second class postage pending at Columbus, OH and additional mailing office. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Robert H. Essman, Botanical Society of America, 1735 Neil Ave., Columbus, OH 43210.
David L. Dilcher
2) Straw Vote on Changing the Name of the Society: The straw vote contained in the same ballot concerned the much-discussed issue of changing the name of the Botanical Society of America, Inc. [Editor's Note—see PSB 35(3):1-2, 35(4):1-4, 36(1):1-3, and 36(2):1—4 for discussion on this topic]. Of those voting, 536 (93%) were in favor of retaining the name Botanical Society of America.
Suggestions for a replacement for Botanical Society of America [Chinnery's Commentary in this issue of PSB presents a view of our Society's name from a completely different perspective—Ed.] included: "I think the problem - the real problem - that people have with the word `botany' is that it is one of the only disciplines amongst the natural sciences that does not end in `—ology'. Maybe people would feel our organization sounded more scientific if we changed the name to the `Botanological Society of America' (No, really- I'm perfectly serious)." ... "I would suggest the new name Phytobiology (and Phycobiology to the algologists!). It seems to me, at least linguistically, the best one!" ... "Society of Plant Biology" ... "American Society of Plant Biology? My feelings are not strong on this issue, but [this name] is worth considering."
Comments in favor of retaining the name included: "Definitely!" ... "Most adamantly!" ... "No way!" ... "Don't do it!!!" ... "Note how well the [current] name fits the new Article I. Why not consider changing the name of the journal rather than the society?" ... "Never change the name!" ... "A rose is a rose is a rose. We should be teaching people what the word botany means - not dropping it." ... "This is an absolutely ridiculous idea" ... "If I had 100 votes I would vote 100 times no!" ... "I strongly feel that there is too much fragmentation in science today, and that Bot. Soc. is meant to be an arena for more cross fertilization and holistic thinking. There are lots of societies we can also join if we want to. Catering to the perceived fad of the moment is not sound." ... "It would be suicidal to change the name!" ... "We need to change our emphasis and hopefully, at the same time, become more attractive to prospective members. Merely changing our own name does not ensure either"... 'Botanical' is good! It fits a downsized world because it has primary producers in its portfolio" ... "I cannot express strongly enough how much I oppose a name change. At "Anonymous U" we went from Botany to Plant Biology. We did not gain any new students, and have even been told by students that they perceived Plant Biology as less scientific than Botany. It may be entirely accidental that the department has gone more and more molecular, but I feel, however emotionally and unrealistically, that the name change was the death knell of organismal biology." ... "Ridiculous idea to change name-" ... "If the name change takes place, I will seriously consider ending my membership." ..."Not necessary!" ... "Change it and I'll drop membership!" ... "Before reading the letters etc. in PSB I avoided calling myself a 'botanist' but I came to realize that it is OK to be one!"
BOTANICAL SOCIETY REPORT TO THE NSF-BBS TASK FORCE
See also pages 19-20
Recently, a Task Force was convened by the Biological, Behavioral, and Social Sciences (BBS) Directorate of the National Science Foundation (NSF), to 1) Examine the organizational structure of the directorate for BBS, 2) Evaluate the adequacy and effectiveness of the structure in meeting current needs of science within BBS, and 3) Recommend options for organizational structure which would optimize the ability of the NSF to respond to new opportunities and challenges of these areas of science in the coming decade. Information, ideas and comments were requested from a wide array of professional societies; each was asked to supply a written statement and present an oral summary to the Task Force in December, 1990. Beryl Simpson, President of the Botanical Society, asked David L Dilcher, Past-President, to respond on behalf of our Society. A summary of the concerns he brought forward is in the next paragraph; turn to page 19 for his full text.
Summary: The Botanical Society of America (BSA) represents 2400 members, including about 1200 members that are active in basic plant science research. Funding for basic (versus applied) research in plant science is very limited and much of what is available comes through the National Science Foundation (NSF). Therefore, a special initiative to allocate additional funds to basic plant science research, should be implemented by the NSF. The lack of funds has and continues to influence the field of botany by discouraging re-searchers and teachers from entering the field and reducing the effectiveness of established botanists. The NSF should use rotate Program Directors because this allows a variety of people and ideas to affect the directions of NSF funding. There are many people in the BSA qualified to serve as NSF Program Directors. Suggestions for policy changes, and concerns for a small-grants and research that "falls through the cracks" of current NSF structure were made.
From the CONSERVATION COMMITTEE:
Periodically, members of the Conservation Committee will be contributing legislative updates and occasional commentaries on topics of interest to botanists. We also welcome any suggestions you might have. Inquiries or comments can be sent to Susan R. Kephart, Chairperson, Department of Biology, Willamette University, Salem, OR, 97301 (503 370-6481, FAX 503 370-6148). Other committee members include Ed Clebsch, James McGraw, Barbara Saigo, Joe Winstead, and George Yatskievych.
Last year, BSA passed a resolution in support of species and habitat protection which also endorsed the proposed National Biological Diversity Conservation and Environmental Research Act (then HR1268 and S 2368). These bills were reintroduced in both houses very early in the 1991 session by Rep. James Scheuer (now HR585) and Sen. Dan Moynihan (S58). The bills are nearly identical and would establish national priorities and strategies for conserving biological diversity; develop a system for including information about the status of species, populations, and communities as a part of environmental impact statements; and provide leadership in conservation effort via a national research center. Hearing dates have not yet been finalized at the time of this writing, but letters of support to both congressional offices would be helpful. For more information or to check on hearing dates, contact Aaron King at 202/226-6980.
Also last year, Congress funded the EPA to investigate ways to improve funding for environmental research, possibly by establishing a National Institutes for the Environment, which could be modeled after NIH and would address a broad range of environmental issues and problems (idea credited in part to Steve Hubbell and Henry Howe). The funds were later transferred to the National Academy of Sciences which has funded two staff positions to develop and work with an investigative committee and report back to Congress. Members are urged to provide input to NAS that would encourage better funding of environmental research related to botany and other areas. [The Committee for the National Institutes for the Environment can be reached through David E. Blockstein, Executive Director, 730 11th Street NW, Washington DC 20001-4521 (202/6284303 or FAX 202/628-4311)—Ed.]
A Federal Environmental Education Program has been established by Congress within the EPA to provide grants to schools for developing curricular materials and programs. It also establishes several national awards, internships and fellowships. See AIBS FORUM (vol. 9, no. 5, Oct 1990) or contact J. Moehlmann, AIBS pc policy analyst, at (202) 628-1500 for more information.
Tidbits: 1) "Guidelines for Research Involving Planned Introduction Into the Environment of Organisms with Deliberately Modified Hereditary Traits" were published 1 Feb 1991 by the USDA. 2) The EPA Science Advisory Board has recommended a change in structure to better address four high risk areas: habitat destruction, species extinction and loss of biodiversity, stratospheric ozone depletion, and global climatic change. 3) An Ecological Society of America ad hoc committee has completed "The Sustainable Biosphere Initiative: an Ecological Research Agenda (SBI)" which will be featured in the April 1991 issue of ECOLOGY. Reprints will be available through the ESA Public Affairs Office (Marjorie Holland, 9650 Rockville Pike, Suite 2503, Bethesda, MD 20814, 301 530-7005), which is a good source of current legislative information, as is the AIBS office mentioned above.
Ecological Section Symposium:
Drs. Michael Barbour, Joan Ehrenfeld, and Patricia Moreno-Casasola have organized a symposium for the annual meeting in San Antonio entitled, "Plant–environment relations on the strand, with special emphasis on the Gulf of Mexico." This symposium is uniquely bi-national because it includes four participants from Mexican institutions—M.T. Valverde, M. L. Martinez-Vazquez, I. Pisantry, and P. Moreno-Casasola. Furthermore, it focuses on an ecosystem that transcends national borders; namely the beach and dunes of the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean coasts. Given the participation of the Sociedad Botanica Mexico in the Botanical Society of America's program at this year's meeting, the symposium should be of particular interest.
Phycology Section: Nominations for Darbaker Prize
The Prize Committee is accepting nominations for the Darbaker Prize to be awarded at the annual meeting of the Society at San Antonio. The award honors meritorious study of microscopic algae. Judgment is based primarily on papers published during calendar years 1989-90. The award is limited to North American residents and papers published in English. The monetary prize will be awarded at the Society banquet. Nominations should include re-prints of the nominee's work and a statement of the nominee's merits addressed to the committee. Dead-line: 15 May 1991. Send nomination to K.R. Roberts, P.O. Box 42451, Dept. of Biology, Univ. of Southwestern Louisiana, Lafayette, LA 70504-2451.
42nd Annual AIBS Meeting of Scientific Societies
"Education: the Future of Biology"
The American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS) will hold its 42nd Annual Meeting of Scientific Societies on 4-8 August 1991 at the San Antonio Convention Center and the Hilton Palacio Del Rio Hotel in San Antonio, Texas. This international meeting will bring together the Botanical, Ecological, and Mycological Societies of America, the Sociedad Botanica de Mexico, and seven other scientific societies for five days of symposia, paper and poster sessions, workshops, Special lectures, field trips and banquets. With the theme "Education: the Future of Biology," sessions will be presented on the present status of biology education, undergraduate curriculum assessment, ecology education for primary, secondary and undergraduate students, scientific literacy for policy makers, informal science education at natural science institutions, and essential botanical knowledge at the college/university level. In addition, Paul G. Risser, President of AIBS and Provost of the University of New Mexico will lead a presidential sympsium entitled "The Sustainable Biosphere Initiative." AIBS is seeking submissions for sessions featuring undergraduate papers in biology and is sponsoring a day-long session for minorities in biology, this year geared toward Hispanic-Americans. For more information or to receive a registration brochure, call the AIBS Meetings Department at 202/628-1500.
Historical Section Lecture
Since 1977, the Historical Section of the BSA has sponsored at the Annual Meeting a special lecture. This year we are privileged to have Stanley L. Welsh of Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah speak on the "Botanical Contributions of John Charles Fremont." Dr. Welsh's lecture is scheduled for Tuesday, August 6, 1991 at 11:00 A.M. Please consult the general program for the location of his talk. For further information concerning the activities of the Historical Section, please contact: Lawrence J. Dorr, New York Botanical Gar-den, Bronx NY 10458-5126.
Baskin Challenge: Ecological Section
Jerry and Carol Baskin have issued a challenge to encourage contributions to the student paper award fund of the Ecological Section. They will match contributions received up to $500. Send your dollars to Dr. Harry Homer, BSA Treasurer, earmarked for the Ecological Section Best Student Paper Award. His address is Department of Botany, Iowa State University, Ames IA 50011-1020.
Teaching Section Workshop Schedule
Workshops sponsored by the Teaching Section were listed in the AIBS Registration Brochure for the San Antonio meeting, but the times were inadvertently left out. The workshops listed here are all to be held on Sunday, 4 August 1991. Time of day is given with each workshop listing. Persons wishing to participate in any workshop should register for it before 20 July 1991 by filling out Form B in the Registration Brochure and sending it to AIBS.
Workshop 1. An Introduction to Cladistics: Theory and Practice: Part I. 9:00-12:00. Vicki Funk, Department of Botany, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC 20560.
Workshop 2. An Introduction to Cladistics: Part II. 1:30-4:30. Vicki Funk.
Workshop 3. Teaching Botany Through Inquiry. 9:00-12:00. Gordon E. Uno, Department of Botany-and Microbiology, University of Oklahoma, Nor-man, OK 73019.
Workshop 4. Botany in Pre-College Classes. 1:30-4:30. Gordon E. Uno
Workshop 5. A model Open Laboratory for Introductory Biology. 1:30-4:30. Kenneth J. Curry, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, MS 39406.
Workshop 6. Restriction Analysis of phage DNA by Agarose Electrophoresis: A Teaching Laboratory with Research Applications. 1:30-4:30. Raymond Galdden, Carolina Biological Supply Company, 1308 Rainey St., Burlington NC 27302.
Botanical Society of the Americas?
I would like to see an alteration in the name of the Botanical Society of America that has little to do with the debate between "Botany" and "Plant Science" but which would increase membership in the Society. My suggestion is to change in the name from "Botanical Society of America" to "Botanical Society of the Americas." I believe this would encourage membership from the Caribbean and Central and South America. This implies that the AMERICAN JOURNAL OF BOTANY should publish papers in languages of the hemisphere in addition to those in English. My feeling is that all English language papers should have an additional Spanish abstract, and all papers in other languages (Portuguese or French) should have additional abstracts in both English and Spanish. I also feel that all papers, in whatever language, should have tables, figures and plates doubly labelled to include English (this is common practice in a number of journals predominantly published in Asiatic languages).
In support of NSF Small Grants
I write in support of the proposal by Scott Armbruster and Carol Bult [PSB 36(4):1] that a "Small Grants Program" be established at the National Science Foundation (NSF). I support the concept for several reasons. First, I believe that in organismic biology it is clear that more science, training and creativity comes out of individual small or medium-sized grants than out of the big programmatic grants. The best way to train independent, clear-thinking, initiative-following scientists for the 1990s and beyond is to provide incentive and support. The current NSF operation is doing that poorly. A very large percentage of my senior colleagues across the country express a common theme on (increasingly early) retirement—they are happy not to have to continue with the frustrating NSF grant application cycle. NSF grants have become many things they presumably were never intended to be, e.g. standards for measuring short term ("should we hire her/him?") and long term ("should we tenure/ promote him/her?") worth, and a means to subsidize university operations (and on the other side of that issue, an excuse to charge researchers for their research [presumably part of their job?] if they do not have external support). And with the low 10-25% rate of award, at best only one-half the proposals are supported that ought to be. There is, of course, something wrong with almost every proposal submitted, but in my experience as a reviewer and panelist, some 40-50% of the proposals are for worthy, worthwhile projects. In fields like those supported by the Division of Biotic Systems and Resources of NSF, there are virtually no other major granting agencies or funding sources, yet funding rates are similar to those in fields where other federal and private foundations provide millions of dollars of additional support.
Thus, young scientists getting started can be thwarted, and give up research/teaching, and senior scientists can be frustrated so that they abandon grant writing for some more rewarding (i.e., fulfilling, not monetarily rewarding) aspect of their job. This obviously means the field suffers, science suffers, and eventually society as a whole pays the price in fewer scientists and lack of new ideas and intellectual ferment.
The Small Grants Program proposed will not solve all of these problems, but it is a step in the right direction. I urge you to write Dr. Mary Clutter (BSR, NSF, Washington, DC 20550) and support the Armbruster and Bult proposal.
Gregory J. Anderson
Reply to Armbruster and Bult
I am writing in response to a letter printed in PSB 36(4) in which Armbruster and Bult call upon the National Science Foundation (NSF) to establish a Small Grants Program. They have identified some serious problems facing U.S. science, such as support for beginning investigators and for "teaching-scientists."
I, too, am especially concerned about the needs of these groups of scientists, as well as the need to support research of the more established scientists and to support projects of various sizes. Currently, the average award for individual investigators in the Biological, Behavioral, and Social Sciences Directorate (BBS) of the NSF is $55,000 per year. Unfortunately, this amount is a decrease in real dollars over the past decade, which means that the average grant has decreased in size just at a time when the cost of conducting the average research project has increased above the rate of inflation.
One of the most important jobs of each pro-gram officer at NSF is to balance the various needs of the program's constituency within the resources allotted to his/her program. Within the guidelines of the directorate and/or division, NSF program officers have a great deal of latitude in designing the appropriate mix of award types. For example, they have the option to make "proof of concept" awards to investigators whose research proposals received positive review but were deficient in the background and/or pilot studies, or needed to demonstrate mastery of a technique. These awards provide funds to "get started" when a proposal might otherwise have been declined outright. In 1990, for example, the programs of the Division of Biotic Systems and Resources (BSR) made 15 of these "proof of concept" awards, averaging $14,800 each.
In BBS, beginning investigators receive special consideration by review panels and program officers. Contrary to anecdotal evidence, young investigators do fare relatively well in recommendations for funding from the program regular competitive grants sections. For example, in 1990 the funding rate for regular competitive proposals in the BSR program for Population Biology and Physiological Ecology was 22% over all scientists, compared to 28% for investigators who had obtained their PhDs in the previous five years. (These rates are low for both groups!) Looking forward, the 1992 budget request for the BBS Di-rectorate highlights increased funding for beginning investigators. Other support for young scientists includes BBS Postdoctoral Fellowships in Environmental Biology and in Plant Biology, and NSF-wide programs, e.g. Presidential Young Investigator awards. As one way to blunt conservatism of funding recommendations in tight fiscal times, NSF's Small Grants for Exploratory Re-search (SGER) program cost-effectively funds high-risk research. In 1990, the BSR made 17 SGER awards, averaging $26,700. Finally, scientists in primarily undergraduate institutions can apply to the Research in Undergraduate Institutions (RUI) program.
The funding mechanisms mentioned above are well intended programs, targeted toward specific ends. They are not special or new funds, as all research is funded from one pool of money. The long-term solution to the problems addressed by Armbruster and Bult is not a major shift in the current balance of available funds which would, in turn, hurt BBS's support for other important areas and types of science and the training of new scientists. Rather, the ultimate late solution lies in our working together to increase awareness of the importance of basic biological science in providing solutions to very real problems facing the U.S.A., and to provide plans for the scientific infrastructure (including human resources) necessary to tackle them.
To this end, the BBS Directorate convened the "Looking to the 21st Century" Task Force [see page 3 — Ed.] to suggest what structure, directions and planning need to be in place to meet the challenges of the future. There are both tough issues and exciting possibilities on the table. Among these are 1) the unique role of NSF in funding the teachers, mentors and role models of our future scientists, and 2) the unique role of BBS in supporting basic research in a number of biological and social science disciplines — among them organismal biology, systematics, and plant sciences in general.
Patricia A. Werner, Director
I'm okay, You're okay: One botanist's perception of horticulture
James F. Hancock
I WORK IN A HORTICULTURE DEPARTMENT, but still consider myself a botanist. I also call myself an ecologist, evolutionist, geneticist, or blueberry breeder, depending on whom I am talking to. Regardless, I remain a botanist at my core. Most of my col-leagues are botanists too.
There has always been this rather puzzling distinction between "applied" and "basic" botanists. I once heard a taped interview with Liberty Hyde Bailey in which he talked about being ostracized for working with crop plants and joining a horticultural department. This attitude has diminished over the years, but it is by no means gone. for some reason, those directly interested in production agriculture are thought by many botanists to base their careers solely on replication and trial ("spray and pray"), while many applied scientists view the basic botanists as having no grasp on the "real world". Clearly, there are individuals that fit both these descriptions, but the vast majority operate somewhere in the middle.
Let me give an example from personal experience. I obtained a B.S. in Biology from Baldwin-Wallace College and an M.S. in Botany from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. When it came time to get a Ph.D., I was convinced that I had to work with natural populations to be a good scientist and was troubled when the best assistantship offer I obtained was from a Cal-Davis strawberry breeder, Royce Bringhurst I wrote Dr. Bringhurst a long letter outlining my desire to be a basic scientist, and said I would work with him only if I could study natural populations of strawberries. It turned out that this was just the project he had in mind, and he let me study with him even though I was naive and arrogant. Working with him was one of the turning points in my life.
In my three years with Dr. Bringhurst, I learned what it really means to do agricultural research. An applied scientist is simply a botanist who concentrates on a specific crop, rather than on a specific question—there is no difference in the level of science. It often takes a very gifted botanist to solve a production problem; in fact, being restricted to a specific crop frequently makes it much harder to test a particular hypothesis. In many cases, a new technology must first be adapted to your crop before hypothesis testing can begin.
When Bringhurst and his associate Victor Voth arrived on the scene in California, strawberry yields were limited to several thousand pounds an acre. To increase these yields, they studied the basic physiology of the strawberry to determine how best to manipulate the plants to maximize yields, and they studied the systematics and ecology of the natural populations to find useful traits by measuring how winter chilling and photoperiod affected stolon and flower production, following the movement of fixed carbon during seasonal development, investigating the role of polyphenolics in resistance to fungi; they also located and isolated the genes for day neutrality and large fruit size from natural populations and transferred these genes to cultivated plants. Along the way they discovered a new species of pentaploid Fragaria, speculated on the genomic origins of the octoploid species F. chiloensis and F. virginiana, and described patterns of divergence in diploid and polyploid types. This work led to the publication of numerous basic papers (at least four in the AMERICAN JOURNAL OF BOTANY) and when they were forced to retire, they had increased California strawberry yields to over 60 thousand pounds an acre! Bringhurst and Voth very effectively married basic science to applied research.
Clearly, jobs in applied departments can be very stimulating to a botanist. If you are a botanist looking for employment, don't fail to scan the applied job advertisements. Many are made for the creative person who likes to adapt to shifting challenges. There is also something extremely gratifying in working with a horticultural industry: it gives you the opportunity to have a direct benefit for people while doing the same kind of science that other botanists do. In addition, you have the constant stimulation of farmers beating on your door with questions and ideas. You might also have some hard support from the agricultural experiment station, although these funds are rapidly diminishing.
In my home department of Horticulture, we have a number of individuals who are working on what we like to refer to as fundamental problems. Jim Fiore is studying the effects of environment and
fruit load on the gas exchange properties of cherry, blueberry and peach to improve their yields and fruit quality. Rebecca Grumet is cloning viral coat protein genes and incorporating them into the genomes of cucumbers and melons to produce pathogen-derived resistance. Amy Iezzoni is studying natural variation patterns in wild cherry species to elucidate the genomic origins of the cultivated cherry and more effectively capture horticulturally important genes from the native species. Muralee Nair is isolating secondary compounds from a broad array of plants and microorganisms as sources of new antibiotics and growth regulators. Ken Sink is perfecting numerous methods of somatic fusion and gene transfer to move genes more efficiently between vegetable species that are not cross-compatible. Randy Beaudry is studying the biochemistry of fruit ripening to design improved post-harvest storage techniques. All these individuals are using basic knowledge to solve applied problems.
In my own laboratory, our efforts to improve the strawberry and blueberry have led us down many interesting paths. We have been given considerable research flexibility, as long as it was perceived that our ultimate goal was to improve small fruit crops. For example, I participated in a collection trip to the Rocky Mountains to clarify the taxonomy of wild Fragaria virginiana and capture horticulturally useful traits such as day neutrality and cold tolerance. Musaffer Sakin is currently studying the photosynthetic patterns of these plants and hybrids with F. chiloensis. John Moon studied photosynthetic heat tolerance in wild, diploid blueberries and began to transfer the associated genes to cultivated varieties. Kobra Haghighi determined the cytotype of the major blueberry cultivars using an RFLP analysis and is now measuring the relationship between ploidy and organelle genome copy number. Steve Krebs examined the nature of self- infertility in wild and cultivated types of blueberries and used isozymes to clearly document that Vaccinium corymbosum is an autotetraploid. Marv Pritts measured dry matter partitioning patterns in native populations of blueberries and described their reproductive strategies. Don Workinton, Pete Callow, Jeff Backer and Theresa Acquaah are currently cloning and sequencing the coat protein genes of two virus diseases and incorporating them into the blueberry genome via Agrobacterium. Tim Holts ford and Sharon Crowley are measuring the amount of gene flow between domestic and native blueberry populations to prepare for the ultimate release of transgenic blueberries.
We have even done studies that were unrelated to production horticulture. Stan Hokanson studied patterns of gene flow in oak populations, and Carol Schuman documented the nature of plastid inheritance in alfalfa and examined the interaction between plastid number and Rubisco content. We are now setting up experiments to measure gene flow from genetically engineered cucumbers using herbicide resistance as a marker trait conferring variable fitness levels. In some cases our lab has worked alone, but in many cases we have worked with other individuals on campus such as Jim Flore, Rebecca Grumet and Don Ramsdell, or people at different institutions such as Arlen Draper, Dick Jensen, Jud Isebrands and Jim Luby.
The need for good botanists in agricultural departments has grown by leaps and bounds over the last decade. Very rarely do departments demand that an applicant already know a crop; rather, they are much more interested in finding a solid scientist who is willing to concentrate on a crop species. People are even encouraged to work on "model systems" as long as a significant portion of a person's research is related to his/her crop. There is currently a great demand for systematists who are willing to involve themselves with germplasm exploration and plant breeding, and plant molecular biologists willing to work on physiological and genetic problems.
There has been much recent talk on how membership in the Botanical Society has been declining. Perhaps more emphasis needs to be placed on encouraging applied scientists to join. We might consider having an applied botany section and designating a portion of the journal to crop species. Monthly review articles on various phases of botany might also encourage more horticulturalists and agronomists to join since many desire periodic updates on the areas that they are not directly involved in. It is a great asset to an applied scientists to be aware of any advance that might be applicable to her/his crop.
In summary, there is a large pool of applied botanists "out there" that feel alienated from the Botanical Society. In addition, many basic botanists are unaware of the opportunities in agriculture. It is time that the two groups join together and cooperate more fully.©
[In this regard, see the ads for positions at the Indiana Crop Improvement Association and Texas A&M University, and the note about the Biotechnology Resource Center of the National Agricultural Library—Ed.]
An Ideal Hangtag for Flowers, Fruits and Petioles
James H. Cane
MARKING INDIVIDUAL FLOWERS, inflorescences, fruits, petioles, buds and small twigs of plants is a frequent necessity for the biologist tracking the consequences of ontogenic change, pollination, frugivory or herbivory. Such markers must endure days, weeks or even a season of wind, rain and sun. Haunting problems with current tagging systems include short-comings of the means of attachment (tissue abrasion or breakage with wire ties, Gordian knots with string or thread, clumsiness for quick transfer, outright loss) and limitations or failures of the label itself (fading, water-damage, excessive weight, invisibility, too visible for vandals, expense). Many of these problems are magnified when working with small or delicate stems. I developed the following hangtag system for tracking fruit set and ripening in pollination studies with species of Vaccinium, Solanum and Saurauia. This tagging system has proven to be cheap, versatile, durable and quick to deploy and recover.
Tool for making embossed labels (e.g. Dymo Labelmaker™ )
Refer to the accompanying figure. Punch out your label strip of embossed numbers or letters, leaving 2—3 spaces for cuttingand a punched hole. Cut tags and punch hole in the blank area of strip ad-joining the em-bossed characters. Cut the triangular paper clip once through an outer corner other than the apex (a chisel against wood yields quick, neat cuts). Thread label onto the clip at this cut, and slide it around the apex to the matching uncut corner. Prepared hangtags can be accumulated in order on a simple loose leaf notebook ring.
To hang the tag, simply open the outer loop of the clip using your finger and slip it around the stem. The tag will hang freely from the paper clip's apex. Where an indicator of group membership is desired (e.g. outcross vs. self), label strips and paper clips can be selected for color coding.
My tags are currently persisting in their fourth season of use with no serious signs of wear or failure.©
Graphic by T. Rodriguez
The "1—in—20 Rule" for Plant Collectors
David H. Wagner
THERE ARE SEVERAL CASES from the past where well-meaning botanists, in the pursuit of knowledge about plants, have extirpated a species at certain sites by documenting discoveries with overzealous collecting. One would think that this wouldn't happen today, that botanists finding only one or two plants in an area would document their discovery only with photo-graphs and notes.
Nevertheless, from time to time a field worker is likely to encounter a small population of an unknown plant and feel it is necessary to collect a small amount for positive identification and documentation. The Native Plant Society of Oregon has published a set of Guide-lines and Ethical Codes for botanists, wherein it is urged that a collector use good judgement and rules of thumb when deciding whether or not to collect. Sage advice, but what is a good rule of thumb?
At some time in the past half-dozen years I began using criterion I now call the "1-in-20 Rule." (I cannot recall from whence the idea came, and so I will take credit for it until somebody shows me an earlier source. This is not unlikely, since I have a vague sense that I heard it somewhere.) Simply put, this rule dictates that one never collects more than one out of twenty plants. It means even one plant until or unless you have found at least twenty.
This rule runs counter to the traditional collector's mentality. As a teenage fern collector the sight of a rare fern sent my hand out to pluck it from the rocks as a prize. Having the plant safely in my vasculum, I started looking around for more. Now, if I run across an unusual plant I suppress my traditional impulse and first think, "can I find twenty?" Only if twenty are found will I consider collecting one plant—leaving at least nineteen for every one taken. This applies to parts of plants, also: remove no more than five percent (one-twentieth) of a shrub, one fern frond from a clump of twenty, 5% of a patch of moss. I use the "1-in-20 Rule" whether I am doing rare plant work or gathering common species for classroom use.
The "1-in-20 Rule" does not obviate the need for good judgement. Any collecting should be both necessary and permitted. Any pertinent factor relating to the survival of a population needs to be superimposed on the-1-in-20 Rule. The main value of a rule of thumb is to provide a clear point of reference from which to begin assessing a situation. I suggest this one as a minimal criterion to be met before any taking of a plant be considered.
A list of Native Plant Societies, Wildflower Societies, and Botanical Clubs of all states of the United States can be obtained from:
New England Wildflower Society, Inc.
Director, Plant Identity Services Indiana Crop Improvement Association
Develop and direct RFLP and related genetic identity systems for plant breeding, quality control and identification purposes. Work with management to achieve long range goal of developing world class genetic identity center. Manage the existing isozyme testing pro-grams. Interact with breeders and other scientists to bring the latest technology in genetic identity testing to the seed industry. Assume responsibilities in an adjunct position at Purdue University. Ph.D. required. Strong genetics background and experience with RFLP procedures desirable. Applications will be accepted until July 1, 1991 or until position is filled. Send resume and names of four references to: Indiana Crop Improvement Association, 3510 U.S. 52 South, Lafayette, IN 47906.
3 Plant Biology Faculty Texas A&M University
The Department of Horticultural Sciences at Texas A&M University has three tenure-track positions, plant molecular genetics, postharvest biology, and horticultural products biology , to be filled at the Assistant Professor level. Individuals will organize and conduct research programs targeted at fundamental questions, teach graduate and advanced undergraduate courses in their areas of expertise, advise graduate students and postdoctoral associates, and establish and administer aggressive extramural grants programs. Cooperative programs with other scientists will be encouraged. Candidates must have earned Ph.D. degrees in horticulture, plant physiology, genetics, biochemistry, molecular biology, food science, or related fields as appropriate to the position sought. Applicants should send resumes, official transcripts, and request that three letters of recommendation be sent to: Dr. R. Daniel Lineberger, Department of Horticultural Sciences, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843-2133. Information concerning the positions may be obtained by writing to the above address or calling 409-845-5250 (FAX 409-845-0627). The deadline for applications is June 15, 1991, or until suitable candidates are found. Texas A&M University is an Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action employer.
Plant Cell Biology Faculty Connecticut College
A tenure-track faculty appointment in plant cell biology will be filled at the Assistant Professor level, to be-gin 1 Jul 1992. Course responsibilities include: introductory cell biology, sophomore level plant structure and development, and electron microscopy. Faculty are expected to sustain an active research program which will involve undergraduates, and normally teach five courses a year. Untenured faculty on full-time appointments receive funding for a summer of research and other forms of research support. Preliminary inter-views for this position will be held at the 1991 Botanical Society of America annual meeting in San Antonio. If possible, potential applicants should write before the meeting to: Dr. Scott Warren, Department of Botany, Box 5362 Conn. College, 270 Mohegan Avenue, New London, CT 06320-4196. Connecticut College is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity employer and is actively seeking to increase the diversity of its faculty and staff.
Visiting Scientists at Selby Gardens
The Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, which is devoted to the study, display, research, and conservation of tropical plants, especially epiphytes, announces opportunities for scientists to carry out botanical research, which should complement those of resident staff scientists, for short periods (1 to 12 months) at the Gardens. Visiting Scientists will have access to the facilities of MSBG, including herbarium, library, live plant collections, and tissue culture lab. They will be encouraged to interact with the research staff and to give a public lecture on an aspect of their research. If you are interested in this opportunity, send a C.V. and a letter stating your background, research interests, and specific goals for such a visit to Dr. Nalini M. Nadkarni, Director of Research, The Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, 811 South Palm Avenue, Sarasota, Florida 34236 (813/ 366-5731. FAX 813/366-9807).
Graduate Assistantship University of Cincinnati
Available (beginning Fall 1991), for research on biogeography, population differentiation, and/or systematics of Philippine angiosperms. Funds will be provided for field work, as part of a larger team, to make representative collections at a minimum of 20 sites over two years. Laboratory research at the University of Cincinnati will involve analysis of DNA variation within or between species selected based upon collecting experience acquired the first year. This Assistantship is part of a cooperative project involving the Cincinnati Muse-um of Natural History, the Philippine Plant Inventory Project (Philippine National Museum/Bishop Museum), and the University of Cincinnati. Requirements: M.Sc. or equivalent in botany, preferably with tropical collecting experience. Send a curriculum vitae, a brief description of research experience and interests, and three letters of reference to Steven H. Rogstad, Department of Biological Sciences – ML6, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH 45221-0006 (513/ 556-9744).
University of Southwestern Louisiana The Department of Biology has available two Board of Regents Doctoral Fellowships to begin in August 1991. Each Fellow receives a renewable stipend of $15,000 per year (12 months), plus complete waiver of tuition and fees. Both Fellowships may be used to support students in PHYCOLOGY. Presently, the following areas of research are emphasized: 1) Systematics and Evolution of dinoflagellates and other algae, 2) Ultra-structure of the protist flagellar apparatus, 3) Structure, function and development of the phytoflagellate cytoskeleton, and 4) Development and architectural control of the dinoflagellate cell wall. For information and application materials write to Dr. Keith R. Roberts, Graduate Coordinator, Department of Biology, P.O. Box 42451, University of Southwestern Louisiana, Lafayette, Louisiana, 70504-2451 as soon as possible. Applications from minorities are particularly encouraged.