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from system garden to scientific research - Digitised Collections


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The most important achievement in the recent history of the School of Botany was the awarding of the first plant "Centre of Excellence" in 1982 in Australia, funded by the Australian Research Council. Botany was taught at the University of Melbourne long before the establishment of a science degree or faculty. An intended component of the university's intellectual life from its inception, botany was included in the arts and medicine degrees in the nineteenth century.

Botany was initially the responsibility of one of the university's four ground professors: Frederick McCoy, professor of natural sciences (1854-99). Ethel McLennan was one of five students in Ewart's first Botany Part III class, in 1914. Williamson, F.L.S., Honorary Keeper of the University Herbarium," and thanked him "for a partial revision of the manuscript and proofs."

McLennan had taught all but one of the components of Parts I, II and III of Botany – plant physiology.

An attempt to focus major research on problems of immediate national concern has so far been unsuccessful, but the Botany School has collaborated with other departments in the Department of Defense's strategic mapping plan.4. Grieve briefly served with the Royal Australian Naval Reserve and Blackwood joined the Women's Auxiliary Australian Air Force. In the others, civilian binoculars, impressed by the government, were reconditioned for use by the armed forces and binoculars that had deteriorated during active service were reconditioned.

In the humid tropics, the fungal mycelium that spread on lenses rendered cameras, binoculars, and sights useless. Botany's war work also included a search for local sources of the newly discovered panacea penicillin. Cultures of the penicillin-producing fungus Penicillium were maintained in institutions outside war-torn Europe, including one in Illinois, USA, which developed a system for the large-scale production of penicillin and supplied the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories (CSL) with Penicillium. tribes.

Using culture media recipes from CSL, she maintained the valuable Penicillium reference collection and screened local soil microfungi for antibiotic activity in the first floor lab in Botany's Wartime extension. In 1941 he accompanied SCB members to inspect a badly burned (in 1939) portion of the Hume watershed, prepared a preliminary report on erosion, and set out to find a male ecologist to conduct a detailed survey of the watershed to be carried out. But a young female expedition member from the McCoy Society in Turner's department had a research grant for ecological work, and Turner convinced the SCB that a woman could investigate soil erosion.

The basement annex became the science faculty's workshop under Ernst Matthaei, who, with the indispensable input of the highly skilled instrument maker Ron Muss, produced various equipment that was crucial for research projects. As staff resigned (Grieve in 1947) or retired (Patton in 1948) and student numbers increased, staff were appointed with expertise, Turner applied to the Botany School. An appendix to doctoral theses shows the range of post-war botanical research in Turner's time.

She collaborated with CSL's longtime head of the Allergens Department, Edith Derrick, who had been involved in the disturbing disharmony in Ewart's department in the 1920s. In the 1960s, undergraduates studied fungi in Parts II and III of Botany, and postgraduates took them a scientific review in the Blue Laboratory - fungal host-parasite relationships. In 1961 Gretna Weste returned, as a senior demonstrator, to prepare class materials and demonstrate in Thrower's practical mycology and plant pathology classes.

In the 1960s, five research projects on plant pathogens and one on fuel-consuming fungi resulted in doctoral degrees. While Doug Parbery was elucidating the taxonomy of fungal pathogens and beginning his Shell-backed investigation into a dangerous mold that found jet fuel tasty, three pathogen projects yielded a Ph.D. When Thrower was appointed Professor of Botany at the University of Hong Kong, Haring (Harry) Swart, PhD (Utrecht), was appointed Senior Lecturer in Mycology and Plant Pathology in 1966 and began research on microfungi in leaf litter.

In 1970, after completing his non-agricultural doctoral research on the infamous aircraft-threatening kerosene fungus, Parbery and agricultural plant pathology transferred from the System Garden to the Agriculture School. The 1961 appointment of Dr. T. Carrick Chambers brought electron microscopy to the Botany School at a time when the electron microscope was considered essential for investigating cellular ultrastructure but was not yet commonly found in university botany departments. Chambers was doing research in Cambridge, jointly in the Botany School and the Electron Microscope Unit at the Cavendish Laboratory, when Professor Turner indicated that, if he accepted the lectureship in Melbourne, there could be an electron microscope.

So a Siemens Elmiskop I, then the leading model for transmission electron microscopy, was purchased for the Melbourne Botany School. Chambers brought his electron microscopic skills to Melbourne in April 1961, in time to prepare the electron microscope unit in Botany's new wing. Professor of Botany from 1967, Chambers undertook further pollen studies with a scanning electron microscope at Cambridge in 1970 and, before succeeding Turner as Head of Botany, added a similar Stereoscan electron microscope to the electron microscope unit.

In 1959, Rowan worked with Pratt on post-harvest fruit physiology as a Fulbright post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Vegetable Crops at the University of California. Turner organized a comparison of Warburg and infrared gas analyzer (IRGA) measurements and supervised doctoral research on photosynthesis, respiration and translocation in the 1950s. In the decade since Turner's 1947 ANZAAS speech, old and new techniques in the service of old and new questions had revealed biochemical details of respiration and photosynthesis; and the electron microscope and ultra-centrifuge allowed scientific study of the structure and function of cell organelles.

In his 1957 ANZAAS Botanical Section presidential address, Turner reviewed recent research on chloroplast photosynthesis and mitochondrial respiratory metabolism and discussed continuing puzzles in transpiration and translocation, citing work by Bob Thaine and Stella Ovenden (later Thrower) on the movement of C14-labeled assimilates in the phloem. Control of leaf photosynthesis rate by the level of assimilate concentration in the leaf: a review of the hypothesis', var. As the biochemical mechanisms, sites, and pathways of photosynthesis were elucidated, scientific interest grew in the puzzling ability of some plants to fix CO2 in the dark—the long-known but unexplained ability of Crassulacean and other succulent plants to convert CO2.

Research on drought tolerant plants attracted ARGC and Commonwealth funding and produced MSc degrees and papers, including "Physiological adaptation to drought in the carbon assimilation and water loss of xerophytes" (1968) and "Effect of ambient carbon dioxide concentration on the rate of transpiration of Agave americana in the dark' (1970) in Nature. In the slipstream of the discovery of the C4 pathway of photosynthesis in the early 1970s, CAM biochemical details were revealed and it was shown that CAM photosynthesis can be triggered by environmental stress. The gas exchange patterns of CAM plants' in The Environmental and Biological Control of Photosynthesis (1975).

Neales considered it "relevant to the effects of increasing atmospheric CO2 concentrations due to the burning of fossil fuels"6 on the biosphere, so he studied the effect of ambient CO2 concentrations on plant growth. Meanwhile, biochemical research developed in Turner's laboratory in the 1962 building and Rowan's laboratory in the 1929 building. In the Australian Society of Plant Physiologists' (Joe) Wood Memorial Lecture in 1973, Turner reviewed the development of plant physiology in Australia and integrated the scientific understanding of Warburg's effect, CAM and C3 and C4 photosynthesis.

In an effort to facilitate cooperation with state authorities, Turner wrote his own in a 1946 research report. In the middle of the forties of the 20th century, the flow of streams in the leafy, young, regenerated mountain ash forests in 1939 decreased noticeably. Photographer Professor EJ Hartung, courtesy of Norman Endacott, Ph.D. David Ashton, in a forest of Eucalyptus regnans, 1957.

When he left for doctoral research at the University of Durham in 1953, he left his Dandenong Ranges relief model displayed in the Victorian Tourist Bureau and his paper on eucalyptus distribution in the Royal Society of Victoria's Proceedings. Author of the seminal paper, 'Pattern and Process in Plant Society', in the 1947 Journal of Ecology, Watt gave ecology lectures and accompanied Ashton to Wallaby Creek and Turner's team to the High Plains, significantly influencing Ashton's and Fawcett's ecological thinking. Meanwhile, as a consequence of his survey statistics, single pegs at defined points along transects replaced randomly distributed racks of ten pegs in the High Plains plots.

Construction of the massive Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Scheme has rekindled engineering concerns about soil erosion and scientific interest in the ecological health of Australia's high mountain catchments. Elected a fellow of the Australian Academy of Science (AAS) in 1956, Turner chaired the AAS committee investigating catchments above 4,500 feet (1,370 m). Turner included Pretty Valley data in the AAS Committee's A Report on the Condition of the High Mountain Catchments of New South Wales and Victoria (1957) and his and Stella Carr's two-volume paper in the Australian Journal of Botany (1959), the first scientific paper to document the destructive effects of grazing.

To assess their suitability in conserving species and ecosystems, Judy Frankenberg surveyed Victoria's reserves and examined Museum and Herbarium records and the sparse literature, mainly in the Proceedings of the Royal Society of Victoria and The Victorian Naturalist. In his report to the Town and Country Planning Board, Turner advocated protecting the landscape and ecosystem and abandoning the proposal. Turner's Nature Conservancy entry for Lower Glenelg National Park advocated the inclusion of the whole of the floristic Kentbruck Heath, only part of which was included in the new Park under the 1969 Act.

In the early 1970s, Turner attended international conservation conferences, contributed to LCC recommendations and reports, reported to the federal government on Gove Peninsula conservation. As Professor Specht later noted, 'Melbourne was fortunate to elect a Professor of Plant Physiology whose heart was in the field'.

Mcclellan, eric (1975) Exploring some aspects of the relationship between photosynthesis and leaf senescence in Pisum sativum L. Parbery, douglas g (1970) The kerosene fungus Amorphotheca resinae; its biology, taxonomy and control Parish, roger wP (1968) The peroxidase isoenzyme in plants with special reference to lignification in wheat Parsai, Prem s (1949) Study of the 'rapid decline' of orange trees in Victoria on the sour orange ( Citrus aurantium L.) rootstock.

School of Botany Staff 2010

The University of Melbourne Herbarium (MELU) remains an important scientific collection in the School of Botany.

Graphic Design by www.taylorandgrace.com.auCopyright © Linden Gillbank and School of Botany, The University of Melbourne, 2010
Graphic Design by www.taylorandgrace.com.auCopyright © Linden Gillbank and School of Botany, The University of Melbourne, 2010


Graphic Design by www.taylorandgrace.com.auCopyright © Linden Gillbank and School of Botany, The University of Melbourne, 2010


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Library Digitised Collections Author/s: University of Melbourne Title: University of Melbourne Calendar 1968 - 1969 Date: 1968 - 1969 Persistent Link: