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Fecundation in Plants Contributions to the Knowledge of the Life-History of Pinus, with Special Reference to Sporogenesis, the Development of the Gametophytes and Fertilisation

Nature volume 71, page 218 (05 January 1905) | Download Citation



MR. MOTTIER'S “Fecundation in Plants” gives to those who are interested in cytology an account of the phenomena of fertilisation throughout the vegetable kingdom, written by one who has carried on investigations in several branches of the subject with success. His practical acquaintance with his subject confers even on his descriptions of the investigations of others a freshness which makes his work a pleasure to read. The first chapter is perhaps the most generally interesting. In it he gives an account of some of the vexed problems of karyology which are at present calling out so much controversy among cytologists. Among these problems may be mentioned the existence of centrosomes, the homology of centrosomes and blepharoplasts, the nature of synapsis, the significance of the sexual process, and the numerical reduction of chromosomes. The author's method of discussion is candid. He avoids being dogmatic in expressing his own views, although he criticises somewhat severely the observations of others. He holds that centrosomes and centrospheres do not occur in plants higher than the liverworts, and are, indeed, only well established in a few of the Thallophyta. It is remarkable that he does not allude to the possibility that the radiations at the poles of mitoses may be in part artefacts produced by the fixing agents. He considers Belajeff hasty in coming to the conclusion that the centrosome is the homologue of the blepharoplast; but he admits later on that certain “facts lend encouragement to the belief that centrosome and blepharoplast may be homologous structures.” Mottier regards synapsis as due in a large measure to the action of reagents. He accepts Strasburger's theory of the numerical reduction of chromosomes as a good working hypothesis, and he holds now that there is no evidence for Weismann's “reduction” to be found in the mitoses of plants. His candid expression of doubt as to the persistent individuality of the chromosomes preserved through the successive mitoses—so often assumed, though almost involving a miraculous resurrection-is typical of his attitude of independence.

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