To the Editor:
We would like to announce the posting of a new web site entitled "Land Plants Online" that showcases diversity, structure, and phylogeny among all green plants. This web site focuses on the phylogenetic relationships among embryophytes and provides a wealth of information on the biology of these organisms including: phylum descriptions, life cycle accounts with hyperlinked text, and comparisons among existing molecular and morphological phylogenetic hypotheses. Hundreds of photographs are presented that illustrate plant habit, gross morphology, anatomical features and ultrastructural details. These photographs include numerous unpublished SEM and TEM micrographs of rarely seen structures. Names, e-mail addresses, and links to personal web sites of botanical experts (arranged according to organism groups) are provided. Additional features include links to a variety of other web sites that relate to land plant evolution, phylogeny and taxonomy and a preliminary list of pertinent bibliographic references. Data matrices (NEXUS format), both molecular and morphological, are available for downloading and further analysis.
Our goal for LPO is to bring together, from a variety of disciplines, the available information on life history phenomena and evolutionary relationships among land plants. We are quite interested in posting images donated by users of this web site, especially if they represent unusual and poorly-represented taxonomic groups. To help maximize the usefulness of this site, we welcome suggestions and input about plant evolution from the botanical community. Land Plants Online can be found at.
- Dan Nickrent (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Karen Renzaglia (email@example.com)
Department of Plant Biology, Southern Illinois University,
Carbondale, IL 62901
To the Editor:
I, along with a Thai botanist, am leading a botanical tour/expedition into the interior of Laos next December. This tour will go to one of the more remote portions of Southeast Asia.
"A Botanical Transect of Laos" - December 14-29, 1999. From Vientiane inot one of the most remote parts of Laos. Led by an American and a Thai professor to an area seen by few outsiders. Dry season. $2,150 from West Coast. 7135 Fawcett Creek Road, Tillamook, OR 97141 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Robert Phillips, Ph.D.
To the Editor:
Joseph Arditti's eloquent obituary of Shih-wei Loo (PSB 45 (1): 11-12, Spring 1999) brought back many vivid memories of a dear old friend. I would like to share some of these memories, since they shed some light on certain tragic events in recent history, as well as on Shihwei's life.
Shih-Wei was a graduate student in Frits Went's group when I, a newly-hatched Ph.D., arrived at Caltech in the summer of 1943 to become a postdoctoral fellow with James Bonner, working on guayule as part of the wartime Emergency Rubber Project. Shih-Wei and I were almost immediately drawn to each other, sharing many long talks, walks, meals at Chinese restaurants, and botanical trips to Joshua Tree National Monument. I was excited by his surprising finding that aseptic cultures of excised asparagus stem tips seemed to grew indefinitely as stems without the formation of roots, even after many transfers. Years later, after discharge from military service, my first scientific publication was on the auxin-induced rooting of such stem tips in the dark (Amer. J. Bot. 35: 281-287, 1948). Shih-Wei and I maintained contact on this and other subjects when he was at Columbia University, but by the time my paper appeared, Shih-Wei had returned to China, and correspondence about this mutual interest became impossible.
In 1971, after a mission to Vietnam to obtain information about Agent Orange-mediated defoliation, Ethan Signer of MIT and I were the first American scientists to be invited to the People's Republic of China. In this connection, I had to fill out a visa application which asked if I knew anyone in China. Since contact between individual Chinese and Westerners was discouraged at that time, I wondered whether to list Shih-Wei's name? but after some consultation, finally did so. When, late in March 1971 1 arrived at the Shanghai airport, Shih-wei was on the tarmac, waiting for me along with other members of the welcoming committee. I waved to him, and after being greeted by the head of the welcoming party, immediately rushed up to him and embraced him. To my consternation, he stood stolidly without expression on his face and did not return my embrace or handshake. Later on, during a visit to his spacious apartment, he loosened up somewhat, but still seemed curiously emotionless and distant. In the summer of 1972, when my family and I returned to China to live and work on an agricultural commune, I saw quite a bit of Shih-wei, especially during a trip to the resort city of Hangchow. He was somewhat more relaxed and forthcoming, but was still not the close friend and relaxed conversationalist I had known in California.
Several years later, after the influence of "the gang of four" had waned considerably, I was instrumental in arranging an exchange of botanists between the PRC and the USA. To my great joy, Shih-wei was one of the Chinese botanists to visit our country. One evening, we sat together in the living room of my house while he recounted his story, punctuated by tears and sobs. As a scientist trained in the West, he was officially criticized for working on theoretical problems not directly connected to the needs of the Chinese people.
He was removed from his position in Shanghai, and forced to march through the streets wearing a dunce cap amidst the taunts and jeers of onlookers. His apartment was confiscated, and he was sent to Anhui province to "learn from the peasants" by performing "laodung" (manual labor). His wife, a trained physician, was also sent to a rural area to "serve the people". My visit resulted in his sudden recall to Shanghai, but the apartment I visited was no longer really his. It was a Potemkin village, temporarily reconstituted to hide its conversion to a dwelling for four families.
As the effects of the Cultural Revolution subsided and reform elements ascended to power, Shih-wei regained his position at the Institute of Plant Physiology in Shanghai, and as Arditti recounts, lived a productive life until his death at the age of 91. A happy picture of Shih-wei Loo can be found in the frontispiece of my book, "Daily Life in People's China", published in New York by Thomas Y. Crewel Company in 1973.
- Arthur W. Galston
Eaton Professor Emeritus Dept. of MCD Biology Yale University
- Dr. Galston served as President of the Botanical Society of America in 1968.