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Charles Darwin: More than the origin
Date:12/9/2009

of orchids he observed, and he stated that although some people might use these peculiarities as examples of new organs specially created, a true understanding of these organs shows that they are modified forms of organs found in other plants. Perhaps due in part to the fact that evolution provides the framework that allows us to understand the living world, much of Darwin's research that was not explicitly related to his theory of evolution was nonetheless used to justify evolution by natural selection or was based on the premise of the theories and mechanisms.

Darwin's explorations into orchids also led him to state that orchid pollen has an "injurious and poisonous" effect on flowers. What Darwin did not know at the time was that one of the substances in the pollen that plays a role in the death of the orchid flower is auxin, as noted in the Hangarter article. Not only can much of our understanding of the natural world be traced back to Darwin, but also much of our current botanical knowledge.

"What impressed me about Darwin's work with orchid is how much more he studied and understood about orchids than just pollination," Arditti said. "But what amazed me was his prescient statement that orchid seeds depend on a fungus for germination. He made this statement on what seems to have been either deep understanding or little more than a hunch long before the French botanist Nol Bernard actually discovered orchid mycorrhiza."


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Contact: Richard Hund
rhund@botany.org
314-577-9557
American Journal of Botany
Source:Eurekalert  

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