The first book to chronicle how innovation in laboratory designs for botanical research energized the emergence of physiological plant ecology as a vibrant subdiscipline
Laboratory innovation since the mid-twentieth century has powered advances in the study of plant adaptation, evolution, and ecosystem function. The phytotron, an integrated complex of controlled-environment greenhouse and laboratory spaces, invented by Frits W. Went in the 1950s, set off a worldwide laboratory movement and transformed the plant sciences. Sharon Kingsland explores this revolution through a comparative study of work in the United States, France, Australia, Israel, the USSR, and Hungary.
These advances in botanical research energized physiological plant ecology. Case studies explore the development of phytotron spinoffs such as mobile laboratories, rhizotrons, and ecotrons. Scientific problems include the significance of plant emissions of volatile organic compounds, symbiosis between plants and soil fungi, and the discovery of new pathways for photosynthesis as an adaptation to hot, dry climates. The advancement of knowledge through synthesis is a running theme: linking disciplines, combining laboratory and field research, and moving across ecological scales from leaf to ecosystem. The book also charts the history of modern scientific responses to the emerging crisis of food insecurity in the era of global warming.
Sharon Kingsland is professor emerita in the Department of History of Science and Technology at Johns Hopkins University. She is the author of two previous books and has coedited two essay collections. She lives in Baltimore, MD.
Sign up to the Yale newsletter for book news, offers, free extracts and more
Strictly Necessary Cookies
Strictly Necessary Cookie should be enabled at all times so that we can save your preferences for cookie settings.
If you disable this cookie, we will not be able to save your preferences. This means that every time you visit this website you will need to enable or disable cookies again.