Davies, Peter J. School of Integrative Plant Science, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York.
Last reviewed:March 2019
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- Three major parts of plant physiology
- Levels of organization
- Breeding and genetic engineering
- Global significance of plants
- Links to Primary Literature
- Additional Readings
The branch of plant sciences that aims to understand how plants live, function, and grow. Plant physiology is the discipline of botany concerned with the actions and mechanisms that occur in plants (Fig. 1). It seeks to understand all aspects and manifestations of plant life. Ultimately, the objective of plant physiology is to explain the life processes of plants by a minimal number of comprehensive principles founded in biology, chemistry, physics, and mathematics. However, plant physiology is a good deal more than the simple sum of these scientific disciplines. Physiology, in a general sense, aims at understanding the function of the whole organism. It strives at preserving the organism's integrity, and it needs more than the principles and methods of biochemistry and biophysics, for example, to do this. In addition, plant physiology relies ever more intensively on the genetic sciences in explaining how an organism's genetic makeup directs the growth and functioning of the plant and its interaction with the world around it. See also: Botany; Genetics; Plant; Plant growth
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