A Lab for All Seasons
The Laboratory Revolution in Modern Botany and the Rise of Physiological Plant Ecology
Imprint: Yale University Press
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.