learn about the development and growth of plants.
The focus of this course is “applying botany.” Everyone who works or wants to use botanical knowledge for business or workplace solutions will find it useful and helpful.
Despite the importance of botany to our economy and quality of life, our educational system far too frequently ignores it. This is tragic in some ways, but it also offers individuals who study botany a professional and financial advantage.
Plants have the power to solve significant issues. They can be utilised to produce fuel for our automobiles, slow down global warming, clean up contaminated land and air, and alleviate food shortages. But in order to accomplish these and other goals with plants, we must continue to advance our understanding of botany and how to apply it to the issues facing our contemporary, fast evolving society.
The lessons cover topics like flower physiology, phytoperiodism, flower bud control, dormancy, the effects of plant associations and competition, respiration and post-harvest physiology, post-harvest storage, transport, retailing and shelf life, endogenous and synthetic growth regulators, and the dangers of manipulating plant growth.
ACS student feedback “The course is really intriguing to me! The reading material and questions appear straightforward at first glance, but they actually demand careful consideration and investigation. The course is really thoughtfully created!” Australia’s Joanne McLeod is taking a Botany II course.
There are 10 lessons in this course:
- Flower physiology
- The flowering response
- Genes control flowering
- Physiological age
- Minimum leaf number
- Light sensing systems
- Blue light responses
- Red light responses
- Other light responses
- Photoreceptor forms: Pr, Pfr
- How molecules change
- Relevance to commercial horticulture
- Controlling light
- Measuring light
- What wavelengths do plants need
- Typical photoperiod responses
- Photoperiodic responses in seasonal flowering plants
- Photoperiodic classification of plants: short day plants, long day plants, day neutral plants
- Detection of photoperiod
- Critical photoperiod and flowering
- Research facts
- Other photoperiodic effects
- Control of flower bud initiation and development
- Stages in flower bud growth
- What can affect flower bud initiation
- Effect of temperature on growth and flowering
- Research reports or reviews of specific plants
- Dormancy in plants
- Abscisic acid and dormancy
- Breaking dormancy
- Dormancy in seeds
- Factors affecting seed dormancy
- Breaking seed dormancy
- Effects of plant associations and competition
- Plant herbivore and pathogen interactions
- Crop spacing and crop yields
- Crop canopy and plant density
- Impact of weeds
- Protected environments
- Respiration and post harvest physiology
- Aerobic respiration
- Anaerobic respiration
- Bioluminescence and Fluorescence
- Post harvest respiration
- Post harvest storage, transport, retailing and shelf life
- Effect of growing conditions on post harvest life
- Controlled storage conditions: temperature, atmosphere, humidity
- Normal atmospheric conditions
- Controlled and modified atmospheres
- Effect of oxygen levels Effect of carbon dioxide levels
- Controlling ethylene levels
- Modified Atmosphere Packaging
- Commodity transport
- Retailing and shelf life
- Endogenous and synthetic growth regulators
- Nature of plant hormones
- Auxins: IAA, IBA, NAA
- Gibberellins: natural and synthetic
- Cytokinins: over 130 different types
- Abscisic acid
- Other hormones: anti auxins, growth inhibitors, growth retardants, defoliants, growth Stimulators, non standard hormones
- Controlled ripening and degreening
- Risks involved with plant growth manipulation
- Commercial risks
- Human health and safety risks
- Plant pathology risks
- Ecological risks
- Genetic modification
- environmental hazards
- Human hazards
Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school’s tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.
- Get familiar with the physiology of growth, development, and flowering.
- Analyze the phytochrome reaction to determine the characteristics of phytochrome and its impact on blooming.
- Investigate how flowering plants react photoperiodically to various dark and light periods.
- Analyze how the temperature affects the commencement of flowering and the growth of flowers.
- Recognize the reasons why seeds and plants go into dormancy and how to disrupt this state, as well as the techniques for doing so.
- Recognize how competition and plant associations affect crop quality and marketability.
- Describe how plant cells respire and how this affects the storage and transportation of crops after harvest.
- Explain the physiological processes in connection to the storage conditions that occur in post-harvest crops.
- Examine how endogenous and artificial growth regulators affect plants.
- Recognize risk evaluations that apply to manipulating plant growth.
WHY IS BIOCHEMISTRY IMPORTANT TO UNDERSTAND?
There are lots of reasons:
- Understanding biochemistry is essential to comprehending important facets of our existence since our bodies are biochemical machinery.
- The majority of our food is either directly or indirectly derived from plants. Even the meat we consume comes from creatures that consume plants. In order to preserve our food supply, plants must grow healthily. By understanding how plants develop, we can cultivate them more effectively.
- Our ecosystem is impacted by plants. Without them, our climate would likely be unlivable due to increased temperature extremes, decreased air quality, and other factors.
- Plants provide us with building materials, medications for when we are ill, and fibre for clothing.
From the course notes
There are two forms of photoreceptors:
- “Pr” – Pr absorbs red light
- “Pfr” – Pfr absorbs far-red light.
During sunlight much of the phytochrome in a plant exists as Pfr. In darkness, as in the night, Pfr levels decline. The relative levels of the two forms of the pigment give a plant a way of detecting the light-dark transition.
When a molecule of Pr absorbs a photon of 660-nanometre (the wavelength involved in the flowering response) light, the molecule is converted to Pfr in a matter of milliseconds. When a molecule of Pfr absorbs a photon of 730-nanometre (in the far-red region) light, it is quickly reconverted to the Pr form. These are called photo conversion reactions.
Pfr is biologically active and will trigger certain processes such as seed germination, whereas Pr is inactive which cancels the effect of the prior red light. The Pfr and Pr act as a biological switch turning certain processes on or off.
How Pr and Pfr Molecules Change
When a molecule of Pr absorbs red light (660nm), it is converted to Pfr. When a Pfr molecule absorbs far-red light (730nm), this molecule is converted back to Pr. This process is called photo conversion reaction.
In seed germination, red light is converted to far-red light, thereby inducing germination. Since Pr absorbs red light most efficiently, this light will convert a high proportion of the molecules to the Pfr form, in so doing, inducing germination. Successive far-red light absorbed by Pfr will convert all of the molecules back to Pr, cancelling the effect of the prior red light.
In flowering plants, the amount of net transformation from the inactive to active affects the flowering mechanism during the course of a day. White light contains both red and far-red wavelengths therefore both forms of the pigment are exposed at the same time to photons that promote their photoconversion. After a few minutes in the light an equilibrium is established where the rates or conversion of Pr to Pfr and Pfr to Pr are equal and the proportion of each is constant.
When plants are switched to darkness, the level of Pfr declines over a period of several hours. If a high level of Pfr is regenerated by pulse irradiation with red light in the middle of the dark period it will inhibit flowering in short-day plants that would have flowered and promotes flowering in long-day plants that would not have flowered.
Phytochrome is synthesised in the Pr form and accumulates in this form in dark-grown plants. Pr changes to Pfr when exposed to red light, which is present in sunlight.
When a seedling tip emerges into the light, the etiolated growth pattern gives way to normal plant growth. In dicots, the hook unbends, the growth rate of the stem may slow down somewhat, and leaf growth begins. In grasses, growth of the mesocotyl stops, the stem elongates, and the leaves open. A dark-green bean seedling that receives five minutes of red light a day will show these effects on the fourth day. If this exposure of red light is followed by a five-minute exposure to far-red, none of the changes usually produced by the red light will appear.
Plants growing in a natural environment can detect shading by other plants due to the presence of phytochrome. Radiation of wavelength below 700 nanometres is almost completely reflected or absorbed by vegetation, whereas that between 700 and 800 nanometres (far-red) is transmitted. Therefore shaded plants have a higher equilibrium ratio of Pr to Pfr (more Pfr is converted to Pr) which results in a rapid increase of internodal elongation. With the competition for light under the canopy in a forest a plant’s ability to sense the level of light and adjust its growth accordingly has an important adaptive significance.
When the existence of phytochrome was discovered it was thought that its behaviour might explain the phenomenon of photoperiodism. However, the time measuring attribute of photoperiodism is not controlled by phytochrome and a more complex process was found to be occurring.
Why is an understanding of Light and Phytochromes important in Commercial Horticulture?
The quantity and nature of light is directly related to not only the rate at which plants grow; but also the type of growth that occurs in plants. Phytochrome is the most important chemical involved in a plants capture and utilization of energy from light.
By understanding these processes, we can do many things to facilitate better commercial plant production, for example:
- diagnose problems that result from a deficiency of appropriate light
- control rate of plant growth by controlling light
- manipulate type of plant growth by manipulating light
- ensure proper provision of light requirements when selecting where and how to grow crops
- provide artificial lighting systems for plants that provide the specific quantity and quality of light which is required by those plants
WHAT DO I DO AFTER STUDY?
Get an understanding of the botanical mechanisms behind plant development and growth.
This course is intended for anyone who needs to learn everything there is to know about plants, including how they function, how they grow, what variables encourage their development, and what factors prevent it. It is for persons who work in applied botany, horticulture, or who want to work as scientists.