Plants create both the subtle and essential basis of our lives. We mark
the changes of seasons with them. We adorn our public and private spaces
with them. We cultivate them for food, building material and clothing.
We derive vital medicines from them. They are the basis of our food chain
and the source of oxygen that we breathe.
are cryptic organisms that affect our lives in very important ways. We
use them for the making of bread and the fermentation of beer and wine.
They provide us with unique asortments of mushrooms and puffballs, some
of which are delectable while others are deadly poisonous. They provide
us with antibiotics and some of them are terrible pathogens of plants
to the world of plants and fungi. Learn more about these diverse and enthralling
kingdoms. Take courses in plant biology (which includes fungi). Open your
mind to these diverse kingdoms and you will enter a world of fascination
facts about plants and fungi:
- 98% of the
total biomass of our planet is plant-derived!
- The second
largest commodity (i.e., tradable item) for humankind today is a plant
resource. It's coffee.
- The recent
International Congress of Botany has now classified plants into three
kingdoms: land plants/green algae, the brown algae and the red algae.
The kingdom of fungi is believed to be more closely related to animals
than plants!! Read "Nature", vol. 400, 1999, page 602 for more details.
- To help wean
Civil War soldiers off morphine (an alkaloid from Papaver, the
opium poppy), 19th century physicians used heroin!
- It took 147
biologists working in 35 labs in 17 countries to work out the DNA sequence
of just one chromosome of yeast.
- The rust
fungus, Puccinia, causes billions of dollars of damage to important
grain crops and you are paying for it in higher cereal costs.
- Did you know
that two of biology's greatest scientists, Charles Darwin and Gregor
Mendel trained as botanists?
- Want to learn
more? Take plant biology courses.
The future of
botany and mycology
future is certainly very bright for botanists and mycologists. In the
November 11, 1999 issue of Nature, a major article revealed that
universities truly need well-trained botanists. What are some of the goals
of botany/mycology in the years to come:
help identify and safeguard various plant species from rainforests and
other biomes in order to preserve biodiversity and explore potential
medicinal uses of such plants.
produce plants that can better resist drought, disease, herbicides and
genetically "design" plants and fungi to make vitamins and drugs.
learn about the rich evolutionary history of plant life using modern
cellular and molecular techniques.
increase yields of plant fibers for the textile industry and explore
the increasing usage of mucilages from seaweeds in foodstuffs and pharmaceuticals.
use plants to make a cleaner environment (bioremediation), to make biodegradable
plastic and allergy-free fragrances.
obtain higher yields of agricultural plants with higher nutritional
better use fungi in fermentation processes and the production of alternative
much, much more.
and Mycology are in their golden eras.