Plant Science Bulletin archive
Issue: 1969 v15 No 3 Fall
PLANT SCIENCE BULLETIN
A Publication of the Botanical Society of America, Inc.
October, 1969 Volume Fifteen Number Three
Presidential Address at Opening Plenary Session, XI International Botanical Congress
Kenneth V. Thinzann1
Surely the plant sciences have never been more needed than at this moment. It seems as though half the world's problems call for botanists to help solve them; botanists of every specialty are needed. Paramount, of course, is the need for food, for humanity's growth rate is still on the exponential part of its curve; Julius Sachs would have said that we are in "die grosse Periode des Wachstums," the Grand Period of growth. The food problem is being tackled with considerable success, but it will need the long-continued efforts of geneticists, physiologists, agronomitts, and, of course, the continuous fight against diseases that is waged by plant pathologists. A second great problem we have to face is the spread of humanity into under-populated areas and the steady urbanization of the world. This means the gradual loss of the world's remaining wildernesses and forests. The study and recording of the world's wild plants before they are extinguished. as now being promoted by the unprecedented International Biological Program, calls for taxonomists and ecologists. The effort to save parks and wild places for regaining that serenity of spirit which the nervous life of the cities does so much to erode calls for the work of ecologists, horticulturists, and foresters. The rapidly growing population makes pollution a problem too, especially pollution of lakes, rivers, and oceans, and this needs the activities of limnologists, phycologists and microbiologists. In this connection, the remarkable achievement of Seattle in clearing up the pollution of Lake Washington and restoring its pristine clarity is a tribute to what can be done when biologists and citizens collaborate. Thirdly, the increased search for new sources of food and especially for new drugs calls for the work of plant geographers. economic botanists, and biochemists working in a variety of different fields. Thus there is not a single area covered at this Congress that is not already urgently needed in the struggle to maintain and improve mankind's life on this planet.
1 President, XI International Botanical Congress, and Higgins Professor of Biology Emeritus, Harvard University; Professor of Biology and Provost of Crown College, University of California, Santa Cruz. Address presented at Seattle, Washington, Sunday evening, August 24, 1969.
The public image of the botanist as the man who presses wild flowers is urgently in need of change. It needs to be replaced by the understanding that botany is the one field of human endeavor that stands between us and starvation, or between us and the varied consequences of our own irresponsible fertility.
Undergraduate students in America are fond of attacking the University curriculum on grounds that it is not relevant to life and life's problems. If only they knew something about botany I think they would realize that here is a subject that is supremely relevant, bearing on many of our most pressing problems and needs. I have said elsewhere that I think we need new textbooks and new courses that stress botany as in the service of man, that make students aware of its very practical aspects, and will stimulate them to want to get in and help. Of course, real help can only be given by people who are well trained and broadly informed, but if the future ability to help in the world's problems is borne always in mind as a long-term stimulus, the training and the long hours of laboratory experience may perhaps be taken willingly.
The scale on which botanical work affects the world is enormous. An early example which does not really involve scientific work is the taking of sugar cane to Latin America by the Spanish. The culture of sugar cane there has become the major occupation of a number of countries —the only really important crop of Cuba, dominating its whole economy, and at least one of the major crops of Peru and Brazil. It would be easy to calculate that this one gift brought by the Spaniards was worth more than all the gold and jewels which the Conquistadores took away.
Another great development, due this time to real botanical work, was the introduction of Hevea brariliensis from Brazil to Southeast Asia. This was done via Kew Gardens, whose director, Sir Joseph Hooker, had 70,000 seeds brought to Kew, germinated them, and sent the seedlings to Ceylon, from whence they were gradually distributed to Malaya and Java. Again the rubber plant now constitutes a major part of the economies of those countries, and this adventure has resulted in tremendous benefit to all of us, for indeed the importance of rubber to our civilization can hardly be overestimated. Most of us could not have come to Seattle without the rubber tires on cars and airplanes.
The most spectacular instance of a small number of botanists having a tremendous effect at the present time is, of course, the work of the Rockefeller International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center in Mexico and its offshoot the International Rice Research Institute of the Philippines. We shall hear more about the work of these Institutes at the Thursday morning symposium. Suffice it to say that the work an corn has resulted in converting Mexico from a corn-importing to a corn-exporting country, and the national average corn yield in Mexico has doubled since the program started in 1943. Biochemical analysis at Purdue revealed that a mutant gene of corn raises the level of lysine in which corn is deficient) by 10 times, and this new corn has nearly as high a protein value as casein. Thus both yield and quality have been drastically improved. Similarly the work done there and elsewhere on dwarf varieties of wheat has raised yields of wheat by 400 per cent in Mexico, and comparably also in Pakistan and other countries. President Harrar of the Rockefeller Institute speaks of the necessity "to buy time for long-range planning" which means "to bring more of the under-producing countries to the point where they can produce enough food for their own needs. .. ." With this in mind the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations more recently turned their attention to rice, for, as Paul Mangelsdorf has pointed out, this one plant supplies more than 30 per cent of all the human energy on the globe. The Rice Research Institute, staffed with not more than two or three botanists or agronomists from each of the major rice-producing countries, a total of under 20 professional scientists, with technical help, has already developed short-stemmed varieties which yield up to three or even four times as much as those now widely planted. One of these, IR 8, has been brought to large-scale production and seeds have been distributed in ton lots to India, Ceylon, and elsewhere, The prospect is that rice yields in all these areas can be spectacularly increased. Of course, the station had the benefit of two important backlogs of work, the breeding and selection done over many years in Japan,
and the parallel studies on wheat and corn done in Mexico and Latin America. Nevertheless, the fact remains that a very small group of trained men with good technical support have probably revolutionized the food situation in a large area of the world, and that in only six years of operation. One could hardly hope for better evidence of the need for plant scientists and of their ability to serve the human race promptly and powerfully.
In view of this evidence of the value of botanical research to human needs, one might think that such re-search would be generously supported. I regret having to intrude a sour note at this point. but the fact is that the plant sciences are not supported ro a degree commensurate with their importance. The Agricultural Research Council in Britain and the National Research Council in Canada appear to take their responsibilities seriously enough, but in this country the support of botanical re-search, relative ro the burgeoning opportunities and to the financial inflation, is probably declining. The National Institutes of Health, which in past years interpreted their field of "health-related" sciences liberally, and supported a fair amount of work on plants, now feels it has to interpret its mission more narrowly and no longer supports much if any botanical research. The National Research Foundation, which is the agency for most support of basic work on plants, has done a great deal for the financial support of this Congress, but the United States Congress has twice drastically cut its budget so that many research projects, although pronounced worthy of support by highly critical panels of experts, cannot be given any funds. Furthermore, the United States Department of AgricuI-ture, when a committee of senior plant physiologists recently urged upon them that their mission should include not only practical agriculture but—just as importantly—the basic sciences underlying such practice, has set aside our request. It is difficult, therefore, to be optimistic about the financial future for basic research on plants, and we should perhaps plan to return to the days referred to in Britain as those of "string and sealing-wax." The great agricultural developments to which I alluded were the result of basic research done 20 or more years ago, and we should now be making the scientific discoveries which will underlie the agriculture of the 1990's. It will be too late then to cry that the world is hungry again.
As the plant sciences become more and more sophisticated we have to expect setbacks and what can be roughly called "backfires." We already have them in regard to technology. The motor-car gives us great convenience and mobility but it pollutes the air and causes smog; as the convenience becomes really wide-spread the disadvantage becomes more obvious and is now perhaps serious The electric power station provides handy power ant light at every socket, but the coal smoke makes soo which deposits on everything: it has even been sug;este' that in calculating the cost of electricity one should ad in the cost of extra laundry for the housewife. The recer furor about DDT raises very difficult questions: whit is more important, to have freedom from insect-bon diseases and pest-free crops, or wild birds and fish? must not forget that there is probably no insecticide effective as DDT and it is estimated to have say
literally millions of human lives from malaria and typhus, as well as saving thousands of potential cases of river blindness. The people who attack DDT seldom present fairly the difficult choice which it poses. Perhaps we can hope that the organic chemists who gave us DDT will come up with another substance just as effective on insects and less toxic to other creatures. But my point is that these conflicts of values arise not only from chemistry and technology, they arise from botanical sciences too. Tobacco has been a pleasure and a solace for 300 years since Sir Walter Raleigh brought it from the Carib-bean, but now we realize it kills the smoker with lung cancer and emphysema. Antibiotics, especially streptomycin, have saved millions of lives and almost vanquished bacterial diseases, mankind's greatest menaces from time immemorial. Yet this great gift to us all from botanical science now brings up the spectre of streptomycin-resistant strains of bacteria, which multiply in farm animals fed on antibiotics and sometimes also in hospital patients. A more sophisticated example comes from the ergot alkaloids, which over the years have given us a wonderful series of drugs for the treatment of several diseases. How-ever, a very simple chemical reaction transforms these into lysergic acid diethylamide, LSD, which is a popular and destructive psychedelic drug, causing ever so much trouble among young people in our cities and our universities. It seems as if whenever we get a gift from Nature, she conceals a penalty within it—like the jewel in the ring of the Borgias with a poison needle concealed behind it, or the scorpion with a sting in its tail. If we make too much of her gift, we get stung. We have to decide which we want more, the Natural gift or the sting. This means, as an unavoidable conclusion, that as scientists we have to be more aware than in the past of the possible relation between our work and its application. Don Price has pointed out that in the past most of us had a "blind and optimistic faith" that science automatically brings progress and betterment. Now that we see that this is not necessarily so, a generation of young people attack science and technology, while on the other hand some scientists disclaim any responsibility for the applications of their work to ordinary life. As Price says "the new rebels reduce the complexities of politics to the simplicities of moral feeling," while "the scientists take shelter in the purity of research," We can no longer do that, and the only question is to what extent can we foresee the application of our work. Can the early workers on the nitration of benzene be held responsible for the destructiveness of TNT; can Rutherford, or J. J. Thomson, be blamed for the atomic bomb? On the plus side, should we credit Gregor Mendel with the IR 8 rice? Someone a good deal more thoughtful than a student rebel is needed to disentangle this problem.
But I do not wish to close on a note of problems and difficulties. As a professor, I hear a lot of complaints and pessimism from students. But the world passes through phases; sometimes the future looks difficult, some-times it is promising and exciting. If the politicians do not get us into ton much trouble our future . is indeed bright, for scientists the world over are friends and col-leagues. A Congress like this one is valuable as much for the friendship which it engenders between individuals from distant countries as for its scientific content. If the immediate future has its problems, the long view is indeed heartening, And for the really long view, I want to quote from Konrad Lorenz, the animal behaviorist, in his recent book, On Aggression:
A sentimental misanthropist coined the often-cited aphorism, "The more I see of human beings, the more I like animals." But I (Konrad Lorenz) maintain the contrary; only the person who. knows animals will be able to apprehend the unique position of man. We are the highest achievement reached so far by the great constructors of evolution; we are their latest but certainly not their last word. To regard man, the most ephemeral and rapidly evolving of all species, as the final and unsurpassable achievement of creation is . arrogant and dangerous. If I thought of man as the final image of God, I should not know what to think of God. But when I consider that our ancestors, at a time fairly recent in earth's history, . were perfectly ordinary apes, I see a glimmer of hope. It does not require considerable optimism to assume that from us human beings something better and higher may evolve.
To that I can only add, "Let us all do our best to pro-mote it." And now to the Congress.
Information Management in Mycology
Paul L. Lentz
National Fungus Collections, Crops Research Division Agricultural Research Service
U.S. Department of Agriculture
Information management is familiar to all botanists, and some thousands of articles have been written on the subject. Information management in mycology is not unique, except for the fact that it involves fungi rather than other biological subject matter. However, the members of the Mycological Society of America,' during the past two or three years, have had a new information-resource element interjected into their experience. Remarks concerning the general status of mycological information resources, and especially a discussion of this recent addition, may be highly significant for many botanists who find that their own information management efforts are unduly laborious.
The Mycological Society, with more than 1,200 members, has several resources for the dissemination and management of information, both inside and outside its membership. For example, the Society sponsors publication of the journal Mycologia, issues a newsletter, holds an annual meeting, and participates in special projects, such as publication of a series of relatively lengthy papers as Afycologia Memoirs. In addition, several institutions cooperate with the Society, or with individuals in the Society, in the accumulation and exchange of informational resources on a rather extensive scale.
Together with herbarium specimens, culture collections, and specialized information files, various institutions maintain and—in most instances—encourage use of excel-lent fungus literature collections of books and journals. The New York Botanical Garden, which collaborates with
1 Represented by the author at the Roundtable Conference on Information Problems in the Biological Sciences, A.I.B.S. meeting, Ohio State University, September 5, 1968.
the Mycological Society in the publication of Mycologia, has such a collection, although the Society does not. The National Fungus Collections, at Beltsville, Maryland, has made a considerable effort to establish an outstanding literature collection, which is accessible to all qualified mycologists. This collection constitutes the Stevenson Mycological Library of approximately 5,000 bound volumes and an estimated 50,000 reprint separates of mycological and phytopathological literature. The Farlow Library and Herbarium at Harvard University and reference materials at several other universities also are well known to many mycologists, who depend heavily on such sources regard-less of the recent introduction of mechanized systems of information retrieval.
Because so much information has accumulated through-out many years, and because so many details are practically lost in the unregulated mass, various kinds of systematized extracts have been published, until even these seem in danger of being engulfed in the present enormous volume of mycological literature. Systematized extracts include extensive lists of fungus names and synonymy, bibliographic lists of mycological literature, host and geographical indexes, bibliographies of phytopathological literature, and even bibliographies of articles containing, in turn, extensive bibliographies.
Although these multiple endeavors of information organization may seem almost to add to confusion, rather than alleviate it, mycology is probably more fortunate than some other areas of science in the sense that one or another of several bibliographic efforts has resulted essentially in a systematic record of mycological literature from the earliest to the most recent. From 1908 until 1918, for example, Lindau and Sydow published a bibliographic Thesaurus of approximately 10,000 pages, in which were listed nearly every mycological paper published to that time. Ciferri, an Italian mycologist, eventually ex-tended this work to cover the period up to 1930.
In the meantime, recent literature has been abstracted by journals such as Biological Abstracts. the Bibliography of Agriculture, and by four especially useful publications issued by the Commonwealth Mycological Institute at Kew, England. Perhaps the best known of these four is the Review of Applied Mycology (published monthly). Another is the Review of Veterinary and Medical Mycology (quarterly'). The third is the Index of Fungi, issued twice yearly and containing lists of newly described fungus taxi. The records of the New Taxa Index of the National Fungus Collections at Beltsville are utilized as correlative material to verify and supplement the information assembled for the Index of Fungi. The Bibliography of Systeinatic Mycology, also scheduled for issuance semi-annually, records fungi according to taxonomic affiliation and geographical locality. These latter-day efforts complement the earlier taxonomic compendia in Saccardo's Sylloge Fu tgorum and subsequent lists issued by the Austrian mycologist, Petrak.
All of these information resources are helpful—in some instances practically indispensable—for mycological research. However, the first paragraph of this article intimated that the discussion would include an item that could also have great significance for botanists who are not mycologists. This highly significant item is related to the automated retrieval feature of Biological Abstracts,
How many botanists are acquainted with the fact that automated retrieval has been adapted specifically to the unique needs of mycology? As a result, mycology has its own Abstracts of Mycology, in which the entire world literature on fungi is presented in a single journal! For many botanists, this kind of service is a dream; for mycologists it is reality.
Abstracts of Mycology was initiated in 1967 with a grant from the National Science Foundation, and after consultation between directors of the Biosciences Information Service (BIOSIS) and officers of the Mycological Society. The journal was visualized as an experiment in the derivation of a specialized service, Abstracts of Mycology, al-most entirely as a by-product of the comprehensive in-formation resources represented by Biological Abstracts.
In a proposal which Phyllis V. Parkins° and Robert R. Gulick; of BIOSIS submitted to the National Science Foundation in 1966, the tools for publication of the Abstracts of [Mycology were described in the following terms: "With the publication of computer-composed indexes, be-ginning in 1961 with the subject and author indexes, adopting in 1962 the CROSS index and in 1963 the biosystematic index, BA has as a by-product the built in means for reassembling and repackaging abstracts, references, or indexes to provide many kinds of specialized, even individualized services. . . . It is possible to publish as a derivative of the present BA editorial and production procedures either a special abstract bulletin, a special index including bibliographic citations, or to provide abstract search and retrieval services on demand or on a selective dissemination basis."
According to information provided by H. E. Kennedy, Associate Director for Scientific Affairs at BIOSIS, the initial volume of the Abstracts of Mycology contained 6,181 abstracts of papers from 729 journals. Only two of these sources included more than 200 mycological articles per volume, 450 had two to 10 papers, and 100 each contained only a single article with any mycological significance. Thus, approximately 550 of these sources included articles of potential interest to mycologists but very likely to be overlooked by customary search methods of individual mycologists. In 1968, a total of 1,400 journals yielded 9,153 papers of mycological interest.
The Abstracts of Mycology was begun as an experimental prototype of a specialized service designed to cover a discrete subject area. It was to be directed to a group of individual subscribers on a comprehensive and self-sustaining basis. The subscription goal for the first volume (at a price of S30.00) was 2,000. Although individual mycologists did not subscribe in sufficient numbers for full support of the journal, institutional subscriptions and a change of format helped to achieve the goal of making Abstracts of rllpcology self supporting. Approximately half of all subscriptions are from foreign countries.
Now, to reemphasize the point that was made in the introductory paragraph, automated retrieval was not developed entirely for the benefit of mycology and mycologists. Abstracts of Mycology need not necessarily be a unique phenomenon in the biological field. Resources of
2 Director and AAsoociate Director for Administrative and Business Affairs. Biosciences Information Service of Biological Abstracts. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 1910.1.
the kind that have been used to produce this specialized service can as well be adjusted to the requirements of other branches of botany, and various botanists may be able to apply these resources in their own special fields of interest. If so, they may wish to consider the experience of the mycologists as an example of what can be done when need is accompanied by initiative.
CIFERRI, R. 1957-1960. G. Lindau & P. Sydow Thesaurus Literaturae Mycologicae et Lichenologicae Supplementum 1911-1930. Vols. 1-4. Cortina.
LINDAU, G.,AND P. SYDOW, 1908-1917. Thesaurus Litteraturae Mycologicae et Lichenologicae. Vols. 1-5. Lipsiis.
PETRAK, F. 1930-1944. Verzeichnis der neuen Arten, Varietiiten, Formen, Namen and wichstigsten Synonyme der Pilze. Just's Bor. Jahresbericht Vols. 48-60. [For individual volumes and pagination, see: Petrak, F. 1950. List of new species and varieties of fungi. New combinations and new names published 1936-1939. Commonwealth Mycol. Institute Index of Fungi, Kew 117 p.]
SACCARDO. P. A. 1882-1931. Sylloge Fungorum Omnium Hucusque Cognitorum. Vols. 1-25. Patavii.
The Plight of the Big Thicket
June and Emil Kivdschy
Deep in the heart of the Piney Woods of Southeastern Texas lies an unique biological community, the Big Thicket. This area forms a botanical crossroads where the plant life of the Gulf Coast is intermingled with that of the American southwest and Appalachia. It is not unusual to find here such plants as yucca and prickly pear—typical of Arizona desert— sharing the shade of a grove of magnolia trees with azaleas similar to those found in North Carolina. For years plant scientists from throughout the world have traveled to this living laboratory to search for new plant species and for mutations of known species created by the environment.
Zoologists have been attracted to this area also. Many animal species have found a haven in the almost impenetrable bottomlands of the Big Thicket. At the present time ornithologists and animal photographers are diligently searching the Big Thicket to photograph and study the Ivory Billed Woodpecker. This bird was long believed to be extinct in the United States but has been observed in recent years in the Big Thicket by reputable scientists.
Unfortunately for the Big Thicker, it contains much wealth which can be converted into dollars. The Thicket was the site of the famous Spindletop gusher which ushered in the fabulously productive East Texas oil field and overnight made Texas our leading oil producing state. Oil production is still a major Thicket industry. The Thicket's majestic stands of Southern yellow pine, Magnolia and cypress trees have formed the basis for extensive and oftentimes wasteful lumbering activities. In more recent years, a more subtle enemy has appeared the land developer. The Thicket's close proximity to the metropolitan areas of Houston and Beaumont has attracted the promoter who ruthlessly bulldozes the vegetation, oftentimes of priceless value, to lay out his newest weekend resort. The combined onslaught of these three industries is gobbling up the Thicket at the rate of 50 acres per day.
Many plant species, some once common in the area, are becoming rare owing to the rapacity of man's greed. Several species of wild orchids, among them Habesaaria ciliaris, Pogonia op/ioglossoides. and Calepogon pulchellus, have been drastically reduced in number as the environment needed for their propagation is altered by "progress." Bogs needed for the survival of the Indian pipe (Monotiepa uniflota) and the insect-eating pitcher plants are being drained or otherwise destroyed. Stream banks favored by the white azalea are choice building sites for the land developer.
Recent accounts tell of a magnificent stand of wild gardenias which was destroyed by a thoughtless lumber-man who leveled their habitat to facilitate removal of logs. One plant destroyed was reputed to be 27 feet high. The wild gardenia, as well as the wild camellia, are eagerly sought after by the nurserymen of the area, who remove these plants by the truckload.
Environmental changes wrought by man are also cur-tailing the passion flower and the foxfire. The latter are luminescent fungi that thrive where downed and rotting timber is profuse.
The impact of man on these plant species can be documented. But what of the countless other plant species which have never been completely catalogued? Detailed surveys of the Big Thicket's algae, mushrooms and mosses have never been completed. How many species of these lowly plants have been destroyed before they could be properly identified and collected? No one knows, of course.
Choice specimens of any plant species are targets for man's greed. One of the largest surviving magnolia trees in the United States was destroyed for malicious reasons. This tree was deliberately poisoned to thwart conservationists who attempted to save it from the chainsaw. Choice specimens of holly, dogwood and cypress trees have largely disappeared from the Thicket.
A few conservation-minded individuals are attempting to save a portion of the Big Thicket by purchasing small tracts of land which contain some of the unique plant species. Others are interested in saving the Big Thicket but are financially unable to participate in this fashion. Many of these people have banded together in an attempt to apply political pressure to have governmental agencies take an active part in the preservation of the Thicket. Because of the interest of these people, Senator Yarborough of Texas has proposed a bill in the new Congress (S.4) to set aside as a national monument portions of the Big Thicket which contain many of the endangered plant species. Because of Senator Yarborough's persistence, the National Park Service has completed several surveys on the need for a national monument. Yet the most extensive Park Service proposal is less than 2 per cent of the Thicket. Many conservationists feel that the Park Service proposal is too limited in its scope to insure adequate
preservation of a representative part of the Big Thicket.
Unfortunately, many industrialists and private individuals have seen fit to actively oppose Senator Yarborough's bill. They see that the formation of a national monument, with the attendant abolishment of logging and real estate development, would seriously curtail their personal financial positions. While these people are few in number, their political pressure is relatively large.
Future generations of botanists and zoologists need a living laboratory available to them for study. Its up to the present generation to take the proper steps to insure that the Big Thicket is preserved for this purpose.
Readers of this article can do a great deal to preserve the Thicket. Acting as individuals or as a group, plant scientists throughout the country can apply political pressure upon their local representatives and upon Congress as a whole to assure support for Senator Yarborough's Big Thicket Bill.
NOTES FROM THE EDITOR
A "letters to the editor" column has not been one of our features, and owing to our natural limitations of space should probably not be initiated, but it seemed to me that the following letter, written in reply to former editor Bill Stern's article in our last issue, is of sufficient interest to warrant publication. I asked Dr. Bonner to make some minor revisions in the letter he had originally written, and with his permission publish it herewith:
Professor William L. Stern
I have read with all sorts of feelings, pro, con, and con-fused, your article in the Plant Science Bmlletin, "Quo Vadis, Botanicum?" You make many good points. It is a trend to merge botany and zoology departments (it's not a trend at Caltech because at Caltech they have never been separated; we have always had a Biology Department, for the last 41 years, since the founding of Biology at Caltech). To my way of thinking, you are clearly wrong in opposing this merger. Today we slice biology along different lines than we did 40 or 50 years ago. We don't divide people that work on plants from those that work on animals, we divide instead people that work on genetics from those that work on biochemistry, from those that work on physiology, from those who work in ecology. And even here the division lines are disappearing. Those that work in genetics are in a large measure molecular biologists. Those that work in biochemistry arc in part ecologists. Those that work in systematics are in part biochemists. As our science deepens, gets more insight into life, we have to restructure the way in which we work together in groups, in order to maximize our productivity, in order to maximize the probability that we may get new insights into life. I have seen this in my own research during the past 30 years. As you know, I once worked exclusively with plants. I worked on the problems of development, on how the right genes get turned on in the right places at the right time, to make developmental processes take place. I found ultimately
that the optimal systems for studying certain problems are not, today at least, systems to be found in the plant world, but rather those to be found in liver, or in the chick embryo. True, we have an old saying in my lab-oratory, "Anything that can be done can be done better with peas"—but it's only really semi-true. So I think that the merging of plant and animal science departments is inevitable. It's just the way our science is developing, and as I have pointed out before, the aspiration of every biologist should be to make his own discipline obsolete by finding out everything that there is to be found about it.
You hold up Caltech as a bad example of all the bad kinds of things that have been happening to botany departments. Ten years ago at Caltech there were three botanists out of IS staff members; today there is only I out of 25, and that one is me. Well, I have to admit that we've had bad things happen. Anton Lang defected to Michigan State and rook a good number of my more plant-minded colleagues, but it isn't true that we have only I botanist, namely me. It's just that I am the only remaining Caltech member of the Botanical Society of America. Max Delbriick is a botanist who studies photo-tropism with Phycomyces. Bill Wood and Bob Edgar are botanists who study self-assembly in the bacteriophages, which are viruses of bacteria, which are plants. Daniel McMahon studies the life cycle of the chloroplast, which only lives in plants. We do have a representation of people who know about plant problems, and we are concerned to keep the representation high.
You cite the fact that our Introductory Biology course, Biology I, doesn't mention anything about plants. I wish you to know that I have taught Biology I for 12 years, a term longer than any living human being should have to do it, and believe me, it's full of plants. I give all those kids an intravenous injection of ecology, photosynthesis, the reason that there's oxygen on earth, and similar things. Now I am liberated from Biology I, and I teach Biology III, the second course in biology for Caltech under-graduates. It's called Cell Biology, and we discuss every-thing about cells, the life cycles and the generics of chloroplasts, of mitochondria, the structure of things, the metabolism of things, permeability and material transport as studied from the early days when such matters were studied only with plants, up to the present rime when they are studied with erythrocytes also. I think it's actually more enlightening for the student to be able to coin-pare their various similarities and differences. I'm biased, of course, but I think it's a great course. You say that it has become almost a dictum among botanists, "If you want to ruin botany, establish a biology department." And you even have the temerity to say that Caltech is an example. As I have pointed out above, Caltech is not, because we have never had a botany department. I would say that my dictum is, "If you want to save botany from dissolution, join it up with the mainstream of modern biology." Get people together in the associations in which they naturally work, the functional aspects of today's biology. Molecular biologists, for example, work with anything that offers a solution to the problem at hand, plants, bacteria, viruses, animals, humans—all are fair game, provided that they provide a system suitable for the solution of the problem at hand. I think the develop-
ment of biology has been an evolutionary and maturing one; we're becoming grown-up. My belief has been greatly reinforced during the past year, when I and my colleagues were able to complete the amino acid sequencing of a chromosomal protein, one of the histones, histone IV of plants and animals, namely of histone IV of peas and cows, and found them to be essentially identical. Such is the universality of life.
With best wishes,
Just before this issue went to press another comment on "Quo Vadis" was received from Dr. Arthur Galsmn; here are his views:
Botany Is Alive and Well and Living,
Among Other Places, in New Haven
William L. Stern's article "Quo Vadis Botanicum?" in the June, 1969, Plant Sciences Bulletin requires many anti-dotes, but I will seek to apply only one. As a former colleague of Stern's (he was at one time in the Forestry School at Yale) I am aware that the Ivy League University to which he refers on page 2, column 2, paragraph 2 of his article, is in fact Yale. It is surprising to me that so many facets he presents are completely at variance with reality. Stern states that the moves to fuse Botany and Zoology were set up against the wishes of the great majority of the Botany faculty. I deny this, and assert that the department was roughly equally divided. It is true that the Chairman was strongly opposed to fusion but two of the other professors in the department and at least three of the junior members of the department were in favor. The division in the Department would there-fore have been just about 50:50. It is also true that at its first meeting of the 1961-62 academic year, the full faculty of the Department of Botany voted nnanirnously to request the University to set up machinery to examine the possible fusion of Botany and Zoology.
The resignation of the Chairman was not solely in response to this development. Stern knows, as I know, that there was a spectrum of events precipitating the Chairman's departure. Furthermore, to the best of my knowledge, only one other person left with the Chairman. This person, who is, as Stern states, an eminent botanist and a present officer of the Botanical Society of America, has returned to Yale and has research facilities not only in the University's Natural History Museum, but also spacious and generously equipped space in the Osborn Memorial Laboratory. The statement that since 1960 there have been several retirements among botanists, no one of whom has been replaced, is also inaccurate. There are at present on our roster 12 botanists, exactly the number listed in the 1960 catalog. We now have Professors in the fields of genetics, physiology and paleobotany; Associate Professors in the fields of plant biochemistry, plant morphogenesis, fine structure, genetics and systematics; Assistant Professors in phycology and photosynthesis, a Lecturer in plant physiology, and a Professor of plant ecology, who is a joint member of the Biology and Forestry Departments.
Stern says that at Yale "botany is ignored rather than squeezed." I can only answer that the Yale catalog offers a broad spectrum of courses, in both classical and experimental botany. The members of the staff are encouraged in their teaching and in their research. While it is true that the number of graduate students has declined since Botany was fused with Zoology, I do not consider that this is a move resulting from the fusion itself, and am sure that graduate students coming to Yale can obtain finer instruction today than they could in 1960, because of educational collaboration by zoological colleagues.
Stern says "Aside from certain misguided plant scientists, botanists almost universally oppose the fusion of Botany and Zoology to create Departments of Biology." I suppose that by this definirion I am misguided. In my misguided way I favored and continue to favor a single integrated Department of Biology at Yale. I believe I would take a different view were I at a state college or university with an associated Department or School of Agriculture. Stern's simplistic view serves the cause of Botany and of biological education poorly.
Arthur W. Galston
NEWS AND NOTES
The Natural Land Institute
The Natural Land Institute announces the July publication of Joseph Barren's Flora of the Gunnison Basin, A Study in the Distribution of Plants. (The Gunnison Basin, for those who may not know it, is a 3,000-square-mile natural area in southwestern Colorado surrounded for half its circumference by the Continental Divide.) Besides being a practical guide to the plants, and hence appearing in convenient handbook size, the Flora classifies the species according to their hypothetical geographical origins. The 500 pages of the book include glossaries of terms, of place names, and of the plant collectors, and also rwo indices, the one of plant names, the other topical. The price is $6.00 postpaid, and orders should be addressed m the Natural Land Institute, 303 Penfield Place, Rockford, Illinois 61108. The author is curator of the herbarium at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory.
The Association for Tropical Biology
The Association for Tropical Biology, Inc., announced new officers at its annual council meeting on June 14, 1969, in Mayagūez, Porto Rico: President, Paul D. Hurd, Jr., University of California, Berkeley, USA; Past President, Abraham Willink, Instituto Miguel Lino, Tucuman, Argentina; President-Elect, J. P. M. Brenan, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, England; Councilors, William Hartley, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, Australia; Mildred E. Mathias, University of California, Los Angeles, USA; Thomas E. Moore, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, USA; Harold Sioli, Max-Planck-
Institut fur Limnologic, PlOn (Holstein), Germany; Reina Torres de Arauz, Univcrsidad de Panama, Panama; and Paulo Emilio Vanzolini, Departamcnto de Zoologia, Secretaria da Agricultura, Sao Paulo, Brasil; Executive Director, Edward S. Ayensu, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., USA; Secretary-Treasurer, W. Donald Duckworth, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., USA; and Editor, William L. Stern, University of Maryland, College Park, USA.
Committee chairmanships for the year July 1969-June 1970 are as follows: ATB-IBP Liaison, Lee M. Talbot, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., USA; Editorial Advisory, William L. Stern, University of Maryland, College Park, USA; Education and Research, Amy Jean Gil-martin, Monterey, California, USA; Preservation and Conservation, Maria Buchinger, Foresta Institute, Washington, D.C., USA; and Publicity, Thomas R. Soderstrom, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., USA.
Further information on the Association may be obtained from the Executive Director, Association for Tropical Biology, c/o Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. 20560 USA.
American Society of Plant Physiologists
A committee of the American Society of Plant Physiologists is compiling a directory of films suitable for use in plant physiology courses. To assist us in this task, we would like to hear about private (non-commercial) films which you may have available for loan or rental. If you have 8- or 16-mm films which you think would be of interest to teachers, and which you would be willing to loan or rent, please write to Dr. William K. Purves, Department of Biological Sciences, University of California, Santa Barbara, Calif. 93106. The following information would be appreciated: running time, color vs. black-white, and a brief abstract of the contents.
J. B. HARBORNE (Editor) . Perspectives in Phytochemistry. Academic Press, 1969. 235 pp. $9.00.
This volume originated with a symposium celebrating the tenth anniversary of the British Phytochemical Society and follows the basic format of several recent phytochemical series. While the topics range from physical methods of flavonoid structure determination by T. J. Mabry to a general consideration of molecular taxonomy by H. Erdtman, 5 of the 10 papers consider aspects of metabolism and biosynthesis of various natural products. These include fatty acid biosynthesis by A. T. James, biosynthesis of cyanogenic glycosides by E. E. Conn and G. W. Butler, biosynthesis of carotenoids by T. W. Goodwin, metabolism of cinnamic acid in Basidiomycetes by G. H. N. Towers and a paper on the interaction of flavonoids and photomorphogcnesis by A. W. Galston. Chemotaxonomy is well represented by a general discussion by R. Hagnauer followed by a specific consideration of the applications of sesquiterpenoid distribution in the Compositae by V. Her-out and F. Sorm. Bate-Smith presents a paper which summarizes his extensive work on phenolic compounds and
compares the distribution patterns of flavonoids in mono-cotyledons and dicotyledons. The individual contributions are relatively brief and reflect each author's specific orientation to the subject matter, rather than a generalized review. Therefore the significance of the topics will vary considerably with purpose and background of the various readers. One particularly noteworthy aspect of this volume is the inclusion of separate indices for author, chemical compound, genus-species, and subject. In the current deluge of compendia of phytochemistry and chemotaxonomy (Science 163: 271. 1969) which share a confusion of similar titles and repetitive author and subject lists in the table of contents, it is reassuring to find something new and very useful.
Bert G. Brehm
BULL, L. B., C. C. J. CUI.VLNOR, AND A. T. DICK. The
Pyrrolrzidine Alkaloids. J. Wiley, New York, New York, 1969. 240 pp. $15.50.
This volume is of particular value to toxicologists and plant chemists. The initial chapter presents an interesting account of pyrrolizidine alkaloidosis with reference to the historical appearance of poisoning in the livestock of such scattered countries as Canada, New Zealand, U.S.A. and Germany. The reports date back as early as 1787 in Great Britain. Liver cirrhosis in cattle, sheep, pigs, and horses resulted from ingestion of a variety of plant genera (e.g. Senecio, Crotalaria and Heliotropium) which contain pyrrolizidinc alkaloids. The book continues with several chapters devoted to the botanical distribution, detection and isolation of pyrrolizidine alkaloids and their chemical, physical and spectroscopic properties. Certain similarities of the pyrrolizidine alkaloids to the quinolizidine alkaloids of Papilionaceae and the tropane alkaloids of Solanaceae are reviewed. The authors illustrated that the pyrrolizidinc alkaloids have some structural features not found in any other plant or animal source. The hepatotoxic members were found to be allylic ester alkaloids with a capacity for biological alkylation. For those readers whose interests are in the molecular realm, the text is strengthened by extensive graphical presentation of molecular features of the alkaloids. The second half of the book is devoted to a review of the experimental toxicological investigations and a description of the pathology of naturally occurring pyrrolizidine alkaloidosis. The early feeding experiments (1903, 1905) that involved the production of cirrhotic liver in calves were followed by a variety of livestock and small laboratory animal experiments. These latter experiments have shown that the symptoms and necropsy findings of poisoning in laboratory rats closely resemble pyrrolizidine-caused Pictou, Winton and Molteno diseases of livestock. A number of the experimental procedures that have demonstrated antimitotic and chromosomal damage from pyrrolizidine alkaloids are reviewed in the text. This work is an unusually comprehensive review of the literature of pyrrolizidine alkaloids. A bibliography of over 500 references accompanies the text.
W. E. Johnson