Effects of toxic compounds: stimulation, inhibition, injury, and death

  • H. B. Currier
Part of the Handbuch der Pflanzenphysiologie / Encyclopedia of Plant Physiology book series (532, volume 2)


The effects of chemical substances on plant cells have been studied extensively, and for several reasons. In the realm of fundamental research their use has permitted systematic study of the various cellular functional systems in one way or another; examples are selective respiratory enzyme inhibitors, synthetic growth regulators, and narcotics. In addition, various extremely toxic substances serve as cytological fixing agents, which must possess the capacity of stopping living processes in the shortest possible time in order to preserve original structures. Poisons and the underlying toxicological principles find application in the field of crop protection, where especially rapid advances have been made in the last 20 years. Pesticides have been developed that are lethal to insects but harmless to plants; others that are selective towards fungi. There is today a rapidly expanding group of herbicides, with which it is possible to eliminate plants that grow where they are not wanted. It is encouraging that in a technological field such as weed control many workers are carrying on fundamental research in the physiological (or pathological) effects of poisons on plant cells and tissues. Results of theoretical interest in many instances find immediate application.


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© Springer-Verlag OHG. Berlin · Göttingen · Heidelberg 1956

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  • H. B. Currier

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