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4.8 out of 5 stars

VINE VOICEon 14 October 2012
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is a good book for students studying plant physiology or for those just interesting in how plants function. It includes information from the molecular and cellular processes to the adaptive features to environmental stresses. The book covers a lot of complex subjects however they are all broken down into understandable sections and the structure of the book really makes the topics flow easily.

The book is split into 12 sections:

1. Origins - covering the beginning of plants, what they are and where they came from.

2. Introduction to plant cells - Structure and role of plant cells. Looks at the contents of the cell and processes that occur within and between cells.

3. Genes, gene expression and development - DNA and gene expression. This chapter deals with some complex issues but it explains them well and has good diagrams to help illustrate the key issues.

4. From embryo to establishment - Processes involved in the development of the plant and seeds and fruits.

5. Roots - the anatomy of roots, mechanism of growth and their role in plant nutrition.

6. Stems - the structure and function of stems within plants.

7. Leaves - The morphology of leaves and the process of photosynthesis and photorespiration.

8. Flowers - what flowers are, how they form and their role in pollination and fertilization.

9. Environmental stresses - the effects that environmental stresses such as extreme temperatures, waterlogging, drought and chemicals have on the plants. Chapter 10 looks at how the plants cope with these effects and stresses.

10. Acclimation and adaptation to environmental stresses - the ways that plants are able to deal with environmental stresses such as extreme temperatures (cold and hot), salinity, fire, drought and waterlogging.

11. Biotic stresses - how plants interact with other organisms such as other plants, animals and also plant pathology (fungal, bacterial and viral infections and the plant resistance mechanisms).

12. Plants and the future - Looking at the impacts of climate change and biodiversity loss on plants and also the potential role that plants can play in meeting food and energy demands through genetically modified crops and biofuel.

Each chapter includes coloured diagrams and photographs to illustrate and clarify key concepts. There is also a section at the end of the chapters with references and suggestions for further reading which is useful for students. It also contains a comprehensive glossary at the end of the book.

I really enjoyed this book. It is easy to pick it up and read the section that you are interested in or you can read it from start to finish. It is a nice size - often textbooks go overboard and you have to struggle through a weighty tome which repeats the same information over and over. This book manages to cover all of the key issues in a concise manner making it easier to read!

Overall - highly recommended . 5/5
4 people found this helpful
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Even though I am a scientist by profession, I have to admit that I have a very basic and limited understanding of botany. This book was not only an insightful read, but also a very welcome addition to my growing home library.

We begin with an introduction and overview of plant anatomy and the workings of eukaryotic plant cells. The first chapter is on the origin of plants, outlining the evolution of how life started on our planet some 3.5 billion years ago (evidentially correct, but a current area of much scientific debate). We then move onto the workings of plant cells, allowing us to appreciate the many similarities with our own cells.

The book then follows a sound structure, being divided into various segments of the typical plant. This includes, gene expression, reproduction, roots, stems, leaves and flowers. The final few chapters of the book are devoted to plant responses to environmental stresses and the future of plants (due to climate change, genetic modification, etc). I was delighted to see that no chapter seemed rushed, and weight was equally divided between each.

Although it would be a rather long and tedious review if I concentrated on what I enjoyed about each and every chapter, I will focus on the section 'plants and the future', a topic I found to be highly interesting. Although many are still sceptical about climate change, evidence does dictate it is real, and happening now. The effects of such changes and global warming on plants and agriculture is difficult to predict, as suggested in this book. However, risks and consequences of such effects are detailed soundly (I won't write any more, so as not to spoil the book!). Biodiversity loss is also covered, as well as the effects of deforestation. Interestingly, I was horrified to learn how extinction rates of plants has accelerated since the 17th century (100-1000 fold higher than natural rates), with approximately 654 known plant species becoming extinct since!

All in all, I found this book not only to be highly educational and informative, but a real eye opener. Not only does it cover plant cell biology, but more complex issues that open the readers mind further to ethical dilemmas. I can definitely recommend this book with much enthusiasm. 5/5
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TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 29 September 2012
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This book is something of a rarity, as most plant physiology books these days seem to be published in America.

Hodson (Oxford Brooks) and Bryant (Exteter) are up against stiff competition with this book, which is aimed at the undergraduate market.

The book, which is well illustrated, having defined what a plant is soon delves into genes and cells quickly diving into a very considerable level of detail, which could be off-putting to the casual reader looking for a book such as Capon's Botany for Gardeners, but delighting and challenging the plant biology student in equal measure.

The book very much lives up to its title as a Functional Biology, investigating the biological processes in the growth and developments of plants in a thorough and considered way.

To sumamrise: if you are studying plant biology at level 4 or above then this will be a useful book, which will no doubt make its way onto reading lists and into academic libraries.

If however you have a deep love of plants, and would like to know more about how they grow and develop, this would still be an excellent book if you have mastered an understanding of functional biology at a more basic level, otherwise you will struggle with the content of many sections in this excellent, well written, well illustrated and thoroughly up to date book.
4 people found this helpful
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VINE VOICEon 2 October 2012
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is an excellent brand-new textbook examining the functional biology - cells, genes, reproduction, roots, stems, leaves and flowers - of plants. It mainly focuses on the angiosperms, which won't come as a surprise to moss, fern and conifer enthusiasts familiar with the main trends in plant research. The chapters work through the physical structure of the plant in roughly the order indicated above, though the book also begins with 'origins', a section on evolution, and ends with a section on how plants deal with environmental stresses, and a chapter on 'the future' which includes a brief look at climate change, biodiversity loss, biofuels and GM crops.

The central strengths of the book lie in several areas. It is concise - 300 pages, considerably less weighty than some texts. It is wonderfully economic in its prose style too, though without sacrificing any clarity. Fiddly and complex cycles such as synthesis of fatty acids and the mitochondrial ATP process are all explained with great ease and simplicity considering the incredibly complicated events involved. You don't get to the end of a paragraph and go 'oh god they've lost me', it's really, really well-explained. Diagrams are also very clear.

One particular advantage of having such an up-to-date textbook is that there is lots of the latest research (plus full references for further reading at the end of chapters). So gene expression, for example with respect to embryogenesis, is explained with reference to the relevant transcriptional regulators - all fascinating, relatively newly known stuff. The authors are also clear where things are not yet known: in many places, the lack of clear answers and the need for further research is pointed out, perhaps inspiring a future generation of researchers.

There are also plenty of interesting box-outs containing relevant case studies - from the poisonous soil surrounding 18th century mines to the bark of the Cork Oak.

I only have one criticism to make of the book. I can only judge it as a student because I don't have global knowledge of this field, but in the one area I do have a bit of knowledge about I did find what I think is an inaccuracy. The authors state that Agave americana is used to make tequila. If you consult the standard work in the field Agaves of Continental North America (or even Wikipedia) you'll find that the plant used for tequila is A.tequilana. Just a small point; books in the first edition often contain these sorts of small errors.

Aside from this, a much-to-be-recommended book, with an enormous amount of intriguing stuff to learn contained in its pages.
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VINE VOICEon 4 April 2013
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This textbook presents a very fresh look at plants and plant biology. Some textbooks of the past focussed too much on plant anatomy and physiology and drove away an interest you could have in the subject. This is a textbook which puts plants into context. So it is not just about the plants themselves but moves from the molecular to the ecological levels. If you just focus on the how of a system then you miss out the much more exciting why questions. That is what functional biology is about.

What makes the book even more impressive is the breadth but compactness of the material. It is not one the the 600 pages (plus another 1000 in the accompanying DVD) bloated texts that are written to be totally comprehensive but to terrify undergraduate students. This covers the material just in the right amount of detail and in clear and precise language. The book is nicely illustrated throughout and it is a pleasure to read. I think that it will be an excellent addition to any plant biologist's bookshelf.
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VINE VOICEon 21 October 2012
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An excellent book for anyone with an extensive interest in plant biology, this is a book I wish I had had during my phytochemistry lessons at university! It covers pretty much everything from basic plant biology to primary and secondary metabolites, plant constituents and their chemical constrution, and the reasons why the plant creates them, and how the plant responds to bacteria and virus infections. It also discusses plant responses to different soil types and the plant chemistry that develops as a result - in short, if you have questions about plant constituents and why the plant develops them, this book just may answer them!

You may find that you will need to have a certain level of knowledge of plant biology and constituents in order to get the most from this book, however if you work in a particular area that has a great deal to do with plants and plant chemistry, then this book may be invaluable!
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VINE VOICEon 17 November 2012
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This is a really detailed, comprehensive book about plant biology. Describing all sorts of plants from their simple beginnings to the complex diverse plants that we have today. Showing structure of the cells that make up plants, from embryo to complete, detailing roots, stems, leaves, flowers and how stresses, both environmental and man made affect plants. It even talks about how plants might adapt in the future to our climate changes. All in all a very comprehensive book on plant biology. Good source for anyone studying higher level biology.
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VINE VOICEon 20 June 2013
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Visually very accessible with easy to follow chapters and well illustrated throughout. I think this would appeal to beginner's intermediates and advanced students. A great reference book.
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on 9 November 2012
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I had watched a series of programmmes on TV about plants and how important they are for just about everything in the modern world.
I thought this book would tell me more.
I am sure it does just that for some people but I could only read a couple of paragraphs at a time without referring elsewhere trying to understand this complex subject.
I will keep trying but it is hard going for the average gardener or plant lover.
One person found this helpful
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