Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Who Knew.... Angiosperms Are Flowering Plants!

Well before googling the term Angiosperm I had no idea they were actually flowing plants... then I vaguely began to form a dim memory of my BIO 202 class in which I might have actually heard this information.  Problem is, the memory is not complete.  I don't know much about any topic even remotely related to botany... and I don't pretend to.  But I decided to grin and bare it and perhaps even do a little research on the subject.  Maybe this information will benefit me later on down the road?

Here goes:

Flowers are what actually makes angiosperms different from other seed plants.  They serve as their reproductive structure and allow them to form a broad range of evolutionary relationships.  You know what else is cool?  Their stamens prevent them from performing self-fertilization which broadens the niches they effect.

The fact that angiosperms lay seeds sooner and faster than gymnosperms makes it hard for me to believe that these flowering plants aren't everywhere.  In a way, however, they kind of are everywhere: they dominate terrestrial ecosystems, they are the most diverse and numerous land plant, and they are the most commercially significant plant to humans.

So with that I leave you with one final thought:

Watch out gymnosperms... here come the angiosperms!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

What's the point of these dumb plants??

The senior assessment test, which was essentially a mini-version of the Biology subject GRE exam, consisted of questions which had been drawn from all corners of this awesome, complicated and often very detailed subject. Some specific areas covered by the assessment test included human anatomy and physiology, mechanisms of evolution, viral replication, genetics, population dynamics and the functions of certain plant tissues.

When it came to the plant section of the exam, I would have been completely lost if I had never taken Dr. Brauner’s General Botany class. The great majority of organismal work and studies of the other biology classes I’ve taken has solely dealt with different members from the following Kingdoms: Animalia, Eubacteria, and Archaea.

Because I had taken this class about plants, I was able to recognize that all of the questions about plant classification and tissue function had been something we had gone over at least once throughout that semester. Now, whether I could remember enough to correctly choose the right answer from the list of choices was a different story…

I also felt the same sense of familiarity with the same lack of certainty about minute details with other questions as well, such as those dealing with the finer points of metabolism and human physiology. The sheer amount and range of content that is covered by the subject exam makes it inevitable that moments like this will occur, often more than once, during the exam. Thus, the objective of this testing process is not only to ascertain the amount of detailed biology facts that one has memorized over the years, but to test whether the student is able to narrow down the answer choices by eliminating those which are obviously absurd and by guessing wisely.

I do not believe I will actually ever have to define ‘spongy mesophyll’ or ‘palisade parenchyma’ to anyone once I graduate from Ashland University and later from the graduate veterinary program of a yet unspecified college.

However, learning the basics about this subject is a very good idea simply for the fact that you will become more familiar with some specialized terminology that may help you later on if your career in biology somehow leads you down the “plant path”, or you may learn something more general about your specific learning process or interests.

(And just a short note… ‘spongy mesophyll’ are loosely arranged cells in the leaf around which most gas exchange occurs and ‘palisade parenchyma’ are the cells which contain the highest number of chloroplasts and are responsible for the vast majority of photosynthesis. Both of these types of cells are found in the leaves of plants.)