The origin of this book lies with Joe Varner, who in the mid-1990s decided to develop a third edition of Plant Biochemistry, the highly successful textbook he had edited with James Bonner 30 years earlier. Unfortunately, Joe died before the wheels could be put in motion. Recognizing the need to maintain this important resource, the American Society of Plant Biologists asked us to take on the project. We agreed, but soon found the scope growing beyond the bounds of a traditional biochemistry book.
Reflecting on the needs and future of the field, we concluded that for a contemporary biochemistry textbook to be of maximal use, it should present the biochemistry of plants in the context of relevant elements of their physiology and cellular and molecular biology. The ASPP leadership enthusiastically supported this concept, and the plan was thus put in place.
We have organized Biochemistry & Molecular Biology of Plants around the elements required for life: membranes, energy and metabolism, and reproduction. The first four of the five sections of the book follow this theme. The fifth section, however, represents a diversion and extends relevant scientific fundamentals to environmental aspects of biochemistry and biotechnology—dynamic areas in which the unique capabilities of plants are applied to solve contemporary societal problems.
The development and production of this book required the talent, expertise, and sustained effort of many individuals. We wish to highlight the efforts of the contributors, who not only admirably integrated information from diverse fields in composing the chapters, but also endured what seemed at times to be an unending series of editorial suggestions and revisions to both text and artwork. Thanks are in order to the able reviewers of the individual chapters; to the ASPP publications staff—both full-time and freelance; to Kimberly Cline and Liz Burke, who coordinated the project from the University of California at Berkeley; and to the illustration and production staff at J/B Woolsey Associates.
We especially wish to acknowledge the outstanding contribution of Kathleen Vickers, our developmental editor. We are indebted to Kathleen not only for her perseverance and positive attitude in meeting an endless array of deadlines, but also for her unfailing vigilance to scientific accuracy and for her persistent efforts to integrate diverse material to make a whole from many parts. It is difficult to imagine completing this project without her.
Most important, we want to express appreciation to our wives, Melinda, Barbara, and Frances, who during the past four years not only tolerated the textbook, but came to accept it as a family member.
Bob B. Buchanan
Russell L. Jones
March 31, 2000