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  • Print publication year: 2005
  • Online publication date: June 2012

Chapter 2 - An overview of plant structure and development


Perspective: origin of multicellularity

Since early in the study of plants botanists have been interested in the structure, function, development, and evolution of cells, tissues, and organs. Because some green plants are very small and unicellular, but others are large and multicellular, the origin of multicellularity in plants also has been of great interest to botanists. Among the green algae from which higher plants are thought to have evolved, some colonial taxa such as Pandorina, Volvox, and relatives consist of aggregations of motile cells that individually appear identical to apparently related unicellular forms (Fig. 2.1). Consequently, it was concluded early in the history of botany, and widely accepted, that multicellular plants evolved by the aggregation of unicellular organisms. This viewpoint led to the establishment of the cell theory of multicellularity in plants which proposes that cells are the building blocks of multicellular plants (Fig. 2.2). As early as 1867, however, Hoffmeister proposed that cells are simply subdivisions within an organism. This viewpoint, supported and expanded upon in 1906 by Lester Sharp at Cornell University, has been elucidated and clarified more recently by Hagemann (1982), Kaplan (1992), and Wojtaszek (2000) among others.

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Further reading
Bailey, I. W. 1936. The problem of differentiating and classifying tracheids, fiber-tracheids, and libriform wood fibers. Trop. Woods 45: 18–23
Baluska, F., Volkmann, D., and Barlow, P. W.. 2004. Eukaryotic cells and their cell bodies: cell theory revised. Ann. Bot. 94: 9–32
Beer, M. and Setterfield, G.. 1958. Fine structure in thickened primary walls of collenchyma cells of celery petioles. Am. J. Bot. 45: 571–580
Eames, A. J. and MacDaniels, L. H.. 1947. An Introduction to Plant Anatomy, 2nd edn. New York: McGraw-Hill
Esau, K. 1936. Ontogeny and structure of collenchyma and of vascular tissues in celery petioles. Hilgardia 10: 431–476
Esau, K. 1965. Plant Anatomy, 2nd edn. New York: John Wiley and Sons
Evans, P. S. 1965. Intercalary growth in the aerial shoot of Eleocharis acuta R.Br. Prodr. I. Structure of the growing zone. Ann. Bot. 29: 205–217
Fahn, A. 1974. Plant Anatomy, 2nd edn. Oxford, UK: Pergamon Press
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Foster, A. S. 1955. Structure and ontogeny of terminal sclereids in Boronia serrulata. Am. J. Bot. 42: 551–560
Foster, A. S. and Gifford, E. M. Jr. 1974. Comparative Morphology of Vascular Plants, 2nd edn. San Francisco, CA: W. H. Freeman
Gaudet, J. 1960. Ontogeny of the foliar sclereids in Nymphaea odorata. Am. J. Bot. 47: 525–532
Haberlandt, G. 1914. Physiological Plant Anatomy. London: Macmillan
Hayward, H. E. 1938. The Structure of Economic Plants. London: Macmillan
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Linsbauer, K. (ed.) 1922–43. Handbuch der Pflanzenanatomie. Berlin: Gebrüder Borntraeger
Metcalfe, C. R. 1960. Anatomy of the Monocotyledons, vol. 1, Gramineae. Oxford, UK: Clarendon Press
Metcalfe, C. R. 1971. Anatomy of the Monocotyledons, vol. 5, Cyperaceae. Oxford, UK: Clarendon Press
Metcalfe, C. R. and Chalk, L.. 1950. Anatomy of the Dicotyledons, vols. 1 and 2. Oxford, UK: Clarendon Press
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Tomlinson, P. B. 1959. Structure and distribution of sclereids in the leaves of palms. New Phytol. 58: 253–266
Tomlinson, P. B. 1961. Anatomy of the Monocotyledons, vol. 2, Palmae. Oxford, UK: Clarendon Press
Tomlinson, P. B. 1969. Anatomy of the Monocotyledons, vol. 3, Commelinales–Zingiberales. Oxford, UK: Clarendon Press
Wardlaw, C. W. 1965. Organization and Evolution in Plants. London: Longman, Green