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Seed to Seed: The Secret Life of Plants (Spanish) Paperback – April 16, 2007


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (April 16, 2007)
  • Language: Spanish
  • ISBN-10: 074758561X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747585619
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,185,658 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Even the most hardcore city dweller will be moved by British plant biologist Harberd's look at the life cycle of the thale cress plant, as he records not only the stages of a single species through one year but also provides an outline of "the unseen molecular forces that drive plants from stage to stage." Harberd engagingly shows how this common but ignored garden plant, with its short life span and small genome, is perfect for the plant geneticist, "our own Drosophila (fruit-fly)." Once scientists have determined its entire DNA sequence, they will be able to "get to grips with solving some of the most important questions in plant biology." Most enjoyable are Harberd's passionate observations—from the "exhilarating" results of stem cell behavior to how the "awesome velocity" of Stravinsky's Rite of Spring reminds him of the "brutal in Nature"—and how he successfully uses those observations to convey a view that "the world is a whole" and that even the most common plant can help us "see ourselves as part of something sacred. Perhaps even redefine our science as something sacramental." Illus. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Harberd indicates that this book is an attempt to show how science can enhance our vision of the world; it is written, then, principally for nonscientists. The author, one of the world's leading plant geneticists, describes the developing understanding of how and why plants grow. He explains that experiments are revealing the hidden fundamentals of how the growth of plants is controlled. The book is in the form of a diary of the year 2004, its focus on one small weed in a country churchyard in Norfolk, England, the thale-cress. Harberd comments on the weather ("The sky a salad of dampness; grays, blues, and yellows, all speeding in one direction"). He writes of his search for thale-cress ("What I'd found was a curved line of three, six feet above the remains [in a grave] buried below the ground.)" With 46 black-and-white sketches and diagrams, this book contains some descriptions of plant biology that geneal readers may not nderstand, but his intriguing narrative is not to missed. George Cohen
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By R. Hardy HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on May 9, 2006
Format: Hardcover
You know about writer's block, the frightening state of an author who just cannot come up with another idea about which to write. Nicholas Harberd had researcher's block. He had done plenty of work as a laboratory scientist, working out the biochemical mechanisms of some very basic capabilities of growth in plants. Having gotten some answers, there turned out to be more and deeper questions (the familiar pattern that will keep science going forever), but he was not inspired into a next project. What to do? Part of the charm of his book, _Seed to Seed: The Secret Life of Plants_ (Bloomsbury) is that he lets us know how he as a working scientist came to solve that problem. He lets us in on some biological secrets, as he opens up some of the mechanisms that are at the core of what roots and shoots do. Best of all, he gives himself, and imparts to us, a higher appreciation for the natural world, invoking a mystic unity inspired by science, and an appreciation for all the paradoxes that this entails.

The specific subject of Harberd's research and his book is _Arabidopsis thaliana_, the thale-cress, a humble weed which has gained stardom as the first plant to have its DNA entirely sequenced. To dismantle the block that has left him uninspired to start up any new project, Harberd started a journal for 2004 to record the history of one thale-cress plant; this book is his journal. His selected plant isn't one of the thousands of plants in his lab, but one in the wild, for which he (and the reader) come to have interest and affection. In watching the plant, he describes for himself and for us the intricate dance between DNA, RNA, and the proteins for which they code.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Stephen A. Haines HALL OF FAME on December 4, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Completing a research project and polishing off a journal paper left Nicholas Harberd at loose ends. While casting about for a new project, he struck out on a new course. It is good for us that he did. His quest led him to reflect on Nature's mysterious ways in terms that turned him away from his laboratory work to seek fresh insights. Many years of study of the thale-cress, a humble-looking but informative little plant, had provided much detailed information. Harberd, finding a thale-cress atop a grave in a church cemetery, began considering the plant in a fresh view. He developed a broader vision by studying it in Nature instead of his laboratory.

As the notes progress, Harberd describes the processes involved in the plant's growth and development. He explains how the leaves bud, then expand, each new leaf set 137 degrees away from its neighbour. The angle is a mystery, but many plants make rosettes of leaves, each with their own separation formula. The core of plant is the meristem, and there are two of these in each plant - one for roots and one for the shoot. There are genetic triggers launching the growth process. Harberd explains how these work and, as far as is known, how they interact. The plant, all plants apparently, start with a set of proteins, the DELLAs, that actually inhibit the growth process. He develops the scene with other genes and their proteins that "restrict restraint" allowing the plant to flourish - if the conditions are right.

This book is a reflection of his thoughts, dreams, research problems and other facets of his life and work. Harberd describes the conditions of each day of his note-taking, the weather, the other plants, the soil conditions.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Cathy D. Lally on August 14, 2008
Format: Hardcover
My best friend gave me this for my birthday and it truly is one of the best gifts I've ever gotten. I've always loved biology because of its almost mystical qualities. I struggle with the complex jargon and dry language, however. This book is so satisfying for someone who loves science, but doesn't necessarily understand it in a linear way. Harberd explains the science behind plant biology in attainable language and captures all of the beauty and awe that a living thing possesses. What a satisfying, soul-nurturing book!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By M. H. Mckeever on September 15, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Thoroughly enjoyable read, that gives great insight into scientific thinking. It tells the story of a year in the life of a man, his research, and the weed he is studying. It painlessly explains fairly complex plant genetics and cell biology which was interesting to me, as I produce vegetable seeds and haven't thought much about the plant genetics at a cellular level. I was also intrigued as he holidays in West cork, where I live, and describes a Martin Hayes concert that I was probably at.
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By Christopher Mercer on September 30, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Gently ambling through the seasons of Norfolk and occasionally checking out a thistle in the church graveyard, the author provides a relaxing background for a journey into the heart of genetics.
Some of the concepts are quite challenging, which is not surprising because what is being presented is at the frontier of our current knowledge of how genetic coding enables an organism to develop, defend and thrive in the world of changing seasons and unpredictable events.
The revelation for me, is that the control mechanisms are not concerned with the controlled and selective promotion of certain built-in functions that enable the organism to react to the environment. The mechanism is actually the controlled and selective release of inhibition. For me this was startling and changed the context for a lot of my thinking on man made mechanisms.
I have purchased a copy of this book for my sister and she is also finding it a joy to read.
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