Variation and Evolution in Plants and Microorganisms: Toward a New Synthesis 50 Years after Stebbins
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Variation and Evolution in Plants and Microorganisms:
Toward a New Synthesis 50 Years after Stebbins
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"The present book is intended as a progress report on [the] synthetic approach to evolution as it applies to the plant kingdom." With this simple statement, G. Ledyard Stebbins formulated the objectives of Variation and Evolution in Plants, published in 1950, setting forth for plants what became known as the "synthetic theory of evolution" or "the modern synthesis." The pervading conceit of the book was the molding of Darwin's evolution by natural selection within the framework of rapidly advancing genetic knowledge.

At the time, Variation and Evolution in Plants significantly extended the scope of the science of plants. Plants, with their unique genetic, physiological, and evolutionary features, had all but been left completely out of the synthesis until that point. Fifty years later, the National Academy of Sciences convened a colloquium to update the advances made by Stebbins.

This collection of 17 papers marks the 50th anniversary of the publication of Stebbins' classic. Organized into five sections, the book covers: early evolution and the origin of cells, virus and bacterial models, protoctist models, population variation, and trends and patterns in plant evolution.


Publication Info

352 pages | 6 x 9
  • Paperback: 978-0-309-07099-7
  • Hardcover: 978-0-309-07075-1

Table of Contents

skim chapter
Front Matter i-xii
Part I: Early Evolution and the Origin of Cells 1-2
1 G. Ledyard Stebbins (1906-2000) -- An Appreciation 3-5
2 Solution to Darwin's Dilemma: Discovery of the Missing Precambrian Record of Life 6-20
3 The Chimeric Eukaryote: Origin of the Nucleus from the Karyomastigont in Amitochondriate Protists 21-34
4 Dynamic Evolution of Plant Mitochondrial Genomes: Mobile Genes and Introns and Highly Variable Mutation Rates 35-58
Part II: Viral and Bacterial Models 59-60
5 The Evolution of RNA Viruses: A Population Genetics View 61-82
6 Effects of Passage History and Sampling Bias on Phylogenetic Reconstruction of Human Influenza A Evolution 83-98
7 Bacteria are Different: Observations, Interpretations, Speculations, and Opinions About the Mechanisms of Adaptive Evolution in Prokaryotes 99-114
Part III: Protoctist Models 115-116
8 Evolution of RNA Editing in Trypanosome Mitochondria 117-142
9 Population Structure and Recent Evolution of Plasmodium falciparum 143-164
Part IV: Population Variation 165-166
10 Transposons and Genome Evolution in Plants 167-186
11 Maize as a Model for the Evolution of Plant Nuclear Genomes 187-210
12 Flower Color Variation: A Model for the Experimental Study of Evolution 211-234
13 Gene Genealogies and Population Variation in Plants 235-252
Part V: Trends and Patterns in Plant Evolution 253-254
14 Toward a New Synthesis: Major Evolutionary Trends in the Angiosperm Fossil Record 255-270
15 Reproductive Systems and Evolution in Vascular Plants 271-288
16 Hybridization as a Stimulus for the Evolution of Invasiveness in Plants? 289-309
17 The Role of Genetic and Genomic Attributes in the Success of Polyploids 310-330
Index 331-340
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Suggested Citation

National Academy of Sciences. Variation and Evolution in Plants and Microorganisms: Toward a New Synthesis 50 Years after Stebbins. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2000.

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