"The present book is intended as a progress report on [the] synthetic approach to evolution as it applies to the plant kingdom." With this simple statement, G. Ledyard Stebbins formulated the objectives of Variation and Evolution in Plants, published in 1950, setting forth for plants what became known as the "synthetic theory of evolution" or "the modern synthesis." The pervading conceit of the book was the molding of Darwin's evolution by natural selection within the framework of rapidly advancing genetic knowledge.
At the time, Variation and Evolution in Plants significantly extended the scope of the science of plants. Plants, with their unique genetic, physiological, and evolutionary features, had all but been left completely out of the synthesis until that point. Fifty years later, the National Academy of Sciences convened a colloquium to update the advances made by Stebbins.
This collection of 17 papers marks the 50th anniversary of the publication of Stebbins' classic. Organized into five sections, the book covers: early evolution and the origin of cells, virus and bacterial models, protoctist models, population variation, and trends and patterns in plant evolution.
"...an excellent review of cutting edge research on the ever current role of variation in shaping the evolution of biological systems. ...Variation and Evolution in Plants and Microorganisms represents a fine contribution to evolutionary studies and could deservedly find its place in the library of any evolutionary biologist, next to Stebbins' Variation and Evolution in Plants."
-- Plant Systemics and Evolution, 2002
"This book does, of course, contain a number of excellent chapters, and is perhaps better regarded as a collection of contemporary research. ... Overall, I found it highly readable and enjoyable as a collection and an overview of a range of interesting work..."
-- Plant Science, Spring 2002