This edition: Plant Reproduction
Contributing to the success of plants is an intriguing combination of reproductive strategies that exploits and influences the anatomy and behavior of animals, including insects. Using the natural elements of wind, water, and fire, plants have evolved other remarkable mechanisms to maximize reproduction opportunities. For example, pollen size and flower-wall structures increasingly restrict pollen dispersal by wind, but more dispersal is facilitated by mobile pollinators such as butterflies, hummingbirds, bats, and bees. Seed dispersal and germination play major roles in the movement and continuation of plant species.
Regarding structural development of plants, scientists have discovered that hormones control it in much the same way they influence the shaping of animals. Dr. Elliot Meyerowitz discusses his research on the genetics of Aribidopsis—mouse-ear cress—and establishes the action of hormones such as auxins, gibberellins, cytokinins, and ethylene. Applying microbiology to understanding plant reproduction promises greater production of the fruits and seeds that are most precious to us.