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Introduction to Botany


Green plants form the basis for all life on earth. Plants are the most important larger ... Biol 3500-Mycology (Dr. Whiting) Biol 3550-Phycology (Dr. Nienow) ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Introduction to Botany

Introduction to Botany
  • Dr. John B. Pascarella

Importance of botany
  • Green plants form the basis for all life on
    earth. Plants are the most important larger
  • Plants are our primary food sources all food is
    dependent on plants (animal protein mostly comes
    from domesticated animals that are fed plant

Importance of botany
  • Green plants form the basis for all life on
    earth. Plants provide the primary source of
    building materials-lumber cellulose for paper
    fibers for clothing.
  • The fuel we use to power our cars, homes, and
    industries (natural gas, oil, and coal) is the
    product of fossilized ancient deposits of plants.
  • All medicines and drugs originally came from
    plants and many still do.

Role of plants in the U.S. economy
  • Horticulture-40 of crop production, 3 annual
    rate of increase
  • Vegetables
  • Fruits, nuts, and berries
  • Nursery/greenhouse plants
  • Most diverse area is ornamental plant production

Field and Forage Crops
  • Grown on 200 million acres of land in US
  • Provide food, feed grain, oil, fiber crops
  • Both domestic and export consumption
  • US Major exporter of wheat and soybeans
  • Can be made into biobased products
  • Polymers, lubricants, solvents, composites,
  • Organic agriculture fastest growing segment in
  • Acreage doubled, 20 annual increase in

  • 1/3 of US land is covered by forests
  • 10 million private landowners own ½ of this area
  • 60 of wood fiber comes from private lands
  • 1.6 million workers, 50 billion annual income

History of botany
  • Early humans were hunter/gatherers, they had no
    domesticated crops or animals.
  • Early humans in North America (13,000-9000 B.C.)
    hunted large game, such as mastadons and giant
    ground sloths.
  • For various reasons (climate change, overhunting
    of big game animals, increased food supply),
    agriculture developed around 8,000 b.c.

History of botany
  • Agriculture involves the selection of certain
    plants, the propagation of those plants, and the
    selection of desired traits in those plants.
  • An example is the wild relative of wheat. The
    wild relative of wheat in the middle east has a
    seed coat that does not separate from the grain
    very easily. Modern varieties of wheat are easily
    separated, suggesting that the ease of harvest,
    especially by manual labor, was a trait that was
    selected for by early humans.
  • Another wheat trait that varies is shattering of
    the seed head-the wild form shatters easily, the
    cultivated form does not

History of botany
  • Early scientists Aristotle, 384 B.C., a Greek
    philospher, was also a botanist. Founded the
    first botanical garden of historical record.
  • When he died, Theophrastus continued to studied
    plants and wrote many articles including History
    of Plants and Causes of Plants.

History of botany
  • In the 2nd century A.D., Pliny Historia naturalis
    listed known medical uses of plants
  • Dioscorides- Materia medica was the first book
    with illustrations of plants.
  • These books are known as herbals, as they deal
    primarily with the medical use of plants.
  • During the dark ages, there was little new
    knowledge added about plants.

History of botany
  • The herbals were studied by herbalists, who
    developed a theory that held that a plant part
    that resembled a human part should be used to
    treat associated diseases.
  • The development of the microscope led to the
    modern exploration of plant structure and

Botany as a Science
  • What is science? What do scientists
    do? Scientists observe nature. Scientists
    develop hypothesis (explanations) of how nature
    works Scientists test hypotheses through
    observations, models, and experimentations. Data
    is generated through testing. If data supports
    the hypothesis, the hypothesis may become a
    principle. Related principles lend themselves to
    a theory

Disciplines of Botany
  • Plant anatomy
  • Concerned with the internal structure of plants
  • Plant physiology
  • Concerned with plant function. What are the
    mechanisms of life? Includes photosynthesis,
    water movement, and growth.

Disciplines of Botany
  • Plant taxonomy and systematics
  • Oldest branch of botany. Concerned with the
    naming of species and describing the evolutionary
    relationship of species to each other.
  • Plant geography
  • Study of the geographic distibution of plants.

Disciplines of Botany
  • Plant ecology
  • Study of the interaction of plants with each
    other and the environment.
  • Plant morphology
  • Form and structure of plants

Disciplines of Botany
  • Plant genetics
  • Heredity. 19th, mostly 20th century work.
    Molecular biology-late 20th and 21st century.
  • Cytology
  • Cell biology (cell structure and function)

Plant breeding and Genomics
  • Developing plants that are resistant to pests,
    droughts, and pollution using plants to produce
    pharmaceutical chemicals through genetic
    engineering (biopharming)
  • This will be from both traditional breeding
    programs where certain traits are selected and
    from genetic engineering.
  • Plants may be used in removing pollutants from
    water and soil

Botany Courses at VSU
  • Biol 2230-General Botany (Drs. Pascarella,
    Carter, Whiting)-Required
  • Biol 3400-Plant Physiology (Dr. Goddard)-Counts
    towards physiology requirement
  • Electives
  • Biol 3500-Mycology (Dr. Whiting)
  • Biol 3550-Phycology (Dr. Nienow)
  • Biol 3600-Local Flora (Dr. Carter)
  • Biol 3650-Taxonomy of Seed Plants (Dr. Carter)
  • Biol 4100-Morphology of Land Plants (Dr. Carter)
  • Biol 4200-Plant Anatomy (Dr. Goddard)

Research Interests
  • I work in three main areas
  • Plant Population Biology Use matrix models to
    study plant population dynamics
  • Dissertation topic current study of endangered
    beach vine (Jacquemontia reclinata) in South
  • Community Ecology Effects of disturbances on
    community structure and dynamics
  • Main focus is invasive exotics and hurricanes
  • Plant-Pollinator Interactions Community ecology
    of Native Bees and Pollination Biology of the
    Carolina Jesamine (Gelsemium sempervirens)

Future roles of botany and botanical scientists
  • New medical uses of plants may be developed from
    studying native peoples uses of wild plants.
  • Plants will be an important component of space
    exploration for both oxygen generation and food