Submitted to: Quarterly Review of Biology
Publication Type: Other
Publication Acceptance Date: December 1, 1999
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: Even though 50 years has elapsed since its publication, it is an outstanding reference providing detailed descriptions at the cellular level of the anatomy, morphology, and reproduction in corn. This book is especially appealing because complex developmental details are clearly and accurately presented and are based on a thorough review of the literature and the author's personal observations. Numerous outstanding photographs, photomicrographs, and detailed drawings, which were all done by the author, are included to illustrate the anatomy and developmental concepts presented. This book stands as a testimony to the early corn biologists like Dr. Kiesselbach who understood corn as an organism rather than as a collection of parts. I originally read this book over 16 years ago as a graduate student and was amazed at what I had forgotten and humbled by the complexity and timing of events that must take place for a corn plant to complete its life cycle. A survey of my own graduate students indicated that none had even heard of this book, much less read it. I would venture to guess that in this era of intense specialization, that most corn breeders - who are dependent on the reproductive biology of maize - could not tell you that each male spikelet contains two flowers that contain three stamens which give rise to an anther with four lodicules. Or that an averaged sized tassel produces 18 to 25 million pollen grains. The timeliness of the republication of this book could not be better given that plant anatomy, morphology, and reproduction classes are slowly disappearing from our university campuses. Although we are now in the era of molecular developmental biology, the structure and reproduction of corn stands as a classic that should be on the shelf of every practicing biologist.