This primer is organized around a collection of questions about plant function. For each question I have assembled a number of topics that illuminate some aspect of the overall question and that are meant as a point of departure for further study of that topic. My aim is to provide just enough information, at just the right level of detail, that you can learn enough to take the next step on your own.


  • How do plants control when and where they germinate?
  • How do plants grow and develop into complex structures?
  • How do plants respond to environmental signals?
  • How do plants convert light into chemical energy?
  • How do plants defend themselves against attack?
  • How do plants transition to reproductive growth?

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