All of our biological energy needs are met by the plant kingdom
Plants, as the base for ecological food chains, serve as the structural and functional foundation of natural and managed systems. Photosynthesis is arguably the most important biological process on earth. By liberating oxygen and consuming carbon dioxide, it has transformed the world into the hospitable environment we know today. Directly or indirectly, photosynthesis fills all of our food requirements and many of our needs for fiber and building materials.
Plant Biotechnology- Reduces world's hunger and malnutrition
Plant biotechnology is a set of techniques used to adapt plants for specific needs or opportunities. For example, a single crop may be required to provide sustainable food and healthful nutrition, protection of the environment and many more.
The presence of plants on this planet Earth has enabled other life forms including humans to survive. Plants have diversified into 290,000 living species inhabiting all but harsh environments such as polar–regions. They supply oxygen and are the ultimate provider of food eaten by animals besides fuel, wood and medicine. Six crops namely wheat, rice, maize, potatoes, cassava and sweet potatoes account for 80% of all the calories consumed by humans. As the world's population increases, the need for plants to supply food fuel and medicine increases and thereby the importance of understanding how plants grow and develop.
Plants exhibit Plasticity – the ability to alter or mold itself in response to local environmental conditions. Dr. Natasha Raikhel, distinguished Professor of Plant Cell Biology in university of California explains – "Plants have to be exquisite to survive because they can't run". And they need to be very versatile in their ability to respond to environmental stresses.
Responses to the specific environment results in accumulated characteristics of morphology or external form acquired by natural selection over a period of time and they vary little among plants within the species.
Roots, stems and leaves are the basic plant organs, which are used to draw resources from two very different environments – below ground and above ground. A root is an organ that anchors a plant in the soil, absorbs minerals and water and stores organic nutrients. The shoot system consists of stems, leaves and flowers (in angiosperms) where in leaves are attached to the nodes of the stem. The leaf is the main photosynthetic organ, although green stems also perform photosynthesis by absorbing atmospheric CO2 and light. Xylem transports water and minerals from roots to shoots and phloem transports sugars from where they are produced or stored to where they are needed or growth and metabolism.
Flowering plants comprise about 90% of plant species and are the base of food available to other organisms particularly humans. The propagation of flowering plants by sexual and asexual reproduction forms the basis of agriculture and plant breeders have manipulated the traits of few hundred wild angiosperm species by artificial selection, transforming them into the crops we cultivate today.
Plant biotechnology transformed agriculture and opaque–2 maize with higher levels of amino acids namely lysine and tryptophan, two of the eight essential amino acids humans cannot synthesize and must obtain from their diet is a very good example. Golden Rice, which is genetically modified rice with transgenes from daffodils have with increased nutritional value of beta–carotene.
We have explored so far the potential uses of a tiny fraction of the known plant species while we are loosing thousands of species every year because of destruction of forests for agricultural use. We need to preserve plant diversity and our eco system to harvest their products at sustainable rates.