1021-4437/04/5104- © 2004
Russian Journal of Plant Physiology, Vol. 51, No. 4, 2004, pp. 556–558. Translated from Fiziologiya Rastenii, Vol. 51, No. 4, 2004, pp. 617–620.
Original Russian Text Copyright © 2004 by Drozdov, Kurets.
Plant physiology was born in the 17th and 18th cen-
turies from evolving botany as evidence of the pro-
cesses of plant growth and development amassed.
However, the term “plant physiology” discriminating a
separate sphere of knowledge was for the ﬁrst time used
by J. Senebier only in 1800, in a ﬁve-volume treatise
, where its main problems were
formulated, the accumulated data generalized, and the
research methods described .
The process of initiation and partition of new sec-
tions of plant physiology has been continuous. Devel-
opment of associated sciences and elaboration on their
basis of new methods for investigating live matter
resulted in the formation of several important facets of
plant physiology: biochemical, biophysical, evolution-
ary, ecological, and their synthesis. Certain sections of
phytophysiology grew into the separate branches of sci-
ence: virology (1902), agricultural chemistry (1910),
chemistry of herbicides and growth stimulators (1925),
biochemistry (1930), and microbiology (1930).
By now, the basic processes of plant life have been
thoroughly investigated. Among them, there are photo-
synthesis and respiration, the processes that transform
substance and energy; mineral nutrition as the basis for
the application of fertilizers in agriculture; symbiosis
with nitrogen-ﬁxing microorganisms in legumes and
some other plant species; the basic mechanisms of
water exchange in plants and their adaptation to envi-
ronmental conditions; the role of phytohormones, etc.
Ecophysiologists have made a notable contribution
to the intensiﬁcation of agriculture. The ecological
trend in phytophysiological research arose at the begin-
ning of the 20th century. Its founder in Russia was N.A.
Maksimov; it is owing to his classical research into
frost and drought resistance that Russian plant physiol-
ogy occupied its prominent position.
V. Billing, who led plant physiologists to the inves-
tigation of the “environment–plant” system, was the
ﬁrst to use, in 1952, the term “ecological physiology,”
which later became generally accepted. The develop-
ment of ecological physiology and plant ecology,
whose elementary unit is an individual member of a
population , was closely interlaced. In 1910, at the
3rd International Botanical Congress in Brussels, ecol-
ogy was divided into autecology (ecology of species
and populations) and synecology (ecology of associa-
tions). Autecology was considered a basis for synecol-
ogy because it is impossible to study the ecology of
associations without acquiring some knowledge about
the ecology of species . Ecological plant physiology,
which investigates the basic mechanisms of environ-
mental inﬂuences on the whole organism and its major
processes, is important not only for biology but also for
agriculture and forestry.
At present, the state of plant resources is mainly
assessed on the basis of morphological and cytogenetic
criteria. Physiological indicators are used less often.
However, it is physiological plasticity that chieﬂy pre-
determines the prospects of survival and productivity of
individual plants. Therefore, the ecophysiological char-
acteristics of genotypes are especially valuable for
revealing the donors of economically valuable traits
and resistance to extreme environmental conditions
(including the anthropogenic ones), in the selection of
the source material for plant breeding and its introgres-
sion into the crop plants, and in the development of the
systems of adaptive agriculture .
For a long time, the development of ecophysiology
was hampered by an insufﬁcient experimental basis,
and, ﬁrst of all, by the impossibility of creating con-
trolled environmental conditions and the lack of meth-
odology for performing the multifactor experiments
and analyzing their results. With regard to the fact that
Advances in the Systemic Approach to Ecophysiological Studies
S. N. Drozdov and V. K. Kurets
Institute of Biology, Karelian Research Center, Russian Academy of Sciences,
Pushkinskaya ul. 11, Petrozavodsk, 185610 Russia;
fax: 7 (8142) 76-9810; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Received February 7, 2003
—Advances in ecological plant physiology are reviewed in brief and its signiﬁcance for agriculture
and forestry is discussed. The opportunities offered by a systemic approach to multifactor experiments designed
to simulate the effect of environmental conditions on biological processes occurring in intact plants are consid-
Key words: ecological plant physiology - systemic approach - simulation - CO
exchange - environmental con-
: MDE—the multifactor design of experiments.