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Old 02-28-2019, 01:27 PM
 
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Indian Pipe contains no chlorophyll, and does not photosynthesize. So what makes it a "plant" for classification purposes?
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Old 02-28-2019, 02:41 PM
 
Location: Cody, WY
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": any of a kingdom (Plantae) of multicellular eukaryotic mostly photosynthetic organisms typically lacking locomotive movement or obvious nervous or sensory organs and possessing cellulose cell walls"

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/plant

Please note that plants are mostly photosynthetic, but it is not a requirement, The definition lists the requirements. This why mushrooms are not plants, but have their own kingdom.

There are also animals that can photosynthesize.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AcX2n1rC4W4
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Old 02-28-2019, 04:24 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Happy in Wyoming View Post
": any of a kingdom (Plantae) of multicellular eukaryotic mostly photosynthetic organisms typically lacking locomotive movement or obvious nervous or sensory organs and possessing cellulose cell walls"

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/plant

Please note that plants are mostly photosynthetic, but it is not a requirement, The definition lists the requirements. This why mushrooms are not plants, but have their own kingdom.

There are also animals that can photosynthesize.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AcX2n1rC4W4
Multicellular eukaryotic doesn't help distinguish per se, applies to other groups - like fungi.


Could it be the cellulose cell wall? Are there any actual botanists here rather than someone just pulling info off the internet I already know. Is there a genomic comparison done to green plants, or simple identification at the cellular level (eg the cellulose component)? Oomycetes contain cellulose. Is there a minimum combo of features that make a plant a plant?


The number of plants that do not photosynthesize is vanishingly small in relative terms.

Last edited by Chint; 02-28-2019 at 04:33 PM..
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Old 02-28-2019, 06:23 PM
 
Location: Omaha, Nebraska
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chint View Post
Indian Pipe contains no chlorophyll, and does not photosynthesize. So what makes it a "plant" for classification purposes?
Well, if you look at it, it has flowers with a pistil and anthers - so it's clearly an angiosperm, as the only organisms on Earth that have flowers are angiosperm plants. And it does have a cellulose cell wall. So it's a plant that has lost its chloroplasts after adaptation to a parasitic lifestyle. (Much the way flightless birds are still birds.)
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Old 02-28-2019, 07:21 PM
 
Location: S.W. British Columbia
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chint View Post
Indian Pipe contains no chlorophyll, and does not photosynthesize. So what makes it a "plant" for classification purposes?

I'm not sure if I understand your question about classification. It's an epiparasitic myco-heterotrophic plant, that means it doesn't photosynthesize and it contains no chlorophyll but it still gets the carbon and photosynthetic energy that it needs from the fungi, the fungi in turn having gotten the carbon and photosynthetic energy from vascular, green, photosynthesizing plants. Is that what you are asking about?


.

Last edited by Zoisite; 02-28-2019 at 07:34 PM..
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Old 03-01-2019, 08:20 AM
 
Location: NC
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aredhel View Post
Well, if you look at it, it has flowers with a pistil and anthers - so it's clearly an angiosperm, as the only organisms on Earth that have flowers are angiosperm plants. And it does have a cellulose cell wall. So it's a plant that has lost its chloroplasts after adaptation to a parasitic lifestyle. (Much the way flightless birds are still birds.)
This is a good answer. Parasitic plants have lost some critical biochemical pathway that makes them dependent on a physical connection to another plant species that ďfeedsĒ it. Sometimes the plant parasite is attached to another plants roots and you donít see the connection. Sometimes attachment is to tree tops. Occasionally fungi supply what is missing or at least inadequate. And yes mushrooms are plants. They just donít make sugars using sun energy
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Old 03-01-2019, 09:28 AM
 
Location: Omaha, Nebraska
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Originally Posted by luv4horses View Post
And yes mushrooms are plants. They just donít make sugars using sun energy
DNA analysis shows fungi are actually more closely related to animals than to green plants, and fungi are currently classified as a belonging to a separate kingdom all their own.

Classification systems for biological organisms are imperfect (especially at the higher classification levels such as kingdom and phylum), and can change to reflect our most current knowledge of the evolutionary relationships of organisms. I think that's what our OP is struggling to understand. Loss of a single important characteristic (such as chloroplasts in the case of the Indian Pipe) generally isn't enough to change the overall classification of an organism.
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Old 03-01-2019, 01:01 PM
 
Location: Omaha, Nebraska
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This summary from Wikipedia provides a useful overview of the difficulties of modern taxometry: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taxonomy_(biology)

Basically, step 1 in classifying an organism is to answer the question: does the organism's cell/cells possess a nucleus? If yes, it's a eukaryote. If no, it's a prokaryote.

If the organism is a prokaryote, the next step is to determine whether it should be classified as a bacteria or an archea (this is determined by looking at the organisms ribosomal RNA genes, which are strikingly different between these two groups of organisms).

If the organism is a eukaryote, the next questions to ask are whether it's a heterotroph or photosynthetic, and whether it's single-celled or multicellular.

Multicellular, hetrotrophic, cells lack a rigid cell wall = animal

Multicellular or unicellular, heterotrophic, cells possess a rigid cell wall containing chitin = fungus

Multicellular or unicellular, photosynthetic, cells possess chloroplasts containing chlorophyll b, cells have a rigid cell wall containing cellulose = plant

Unicellular, hetrotrophic, cells lack a rigid cell wall = protozoan

Unicellular, photosynthetic, cells possess chloroplasts containing chlorophyll c = chromista

(The unicellular organisms are the toughest to clearly classify.)

Indian Pipe is no longer photosynthetic, but because it is multicellular, possesses rigid cell walls composed of cellulose, and has flowers, we know it once possessed chloroplasts but lost them when it adapted to parasitism as the means of its survival. That's why it's still classified as a (very odd) angiosperm plant.

Edited to add: It's similar to the reasoning of why whales and dolphins can still be classified as mammals despite being hairless. While they no longer possess hair, having lost it during the evolutionary adaptation to a fully aquatic life, they still possess all the other essential traits of class Mammalia: specialized milk glands for feeding their young, a middle ear with three bones (present during fetal development; this may be lost, depending on the species, by adulthood), and a brain possessing a neocortex. Likewise, a hypothetical bipedal animal with naked skin but possessing a toothless beak composed of keratin, a pygostyle instead of a long, bony tail, a keeled sternum and fused clavicles, and a respiratory system with air sacs plus lungs that provides a one-way flow of air through the lungs has to be a bird. Feathers aren't the only trait that is unique to avians, and the one-way lung structure in particular evolved only once (in the therapod dinosaur lineage from which modern birds arose).

Classification is never based on solely one trait.

Last edited by Aredhel; 03-01-2019 at 01:57 PM..
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Old 03-04-2019, 12:06 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zoisite View Post
I'm not sure if I understand your question about classification. It's an epiparasitic myco-heterotrophic plant, that means it doesn't photosynthesize and it contains no chlorophyll but it still gets the carbon and photosynthetic energy that it needs from the fungi, the fungi in turn having gotten the carbon and photosynthetic energy from vascular, green, photosynthesizing plants. Is that what you are asking about?


.


No - I was asking why is it classified as a plant period, not how it gets its energy.
We weren't here to see is evolutionary path so we've made a determination that it is a plant because of a), b) and c). Its the minimal criteria that make it classified as plant which is what I was after.
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Old 03-04-2019, 12:10 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aredhel View Post
Well, if you look at it, it has flowers with a pistil and anthers - so it's clearly an angiosperm, as the only organisms on Earth that have flowers are angiosperm plants. And it does have a cellulose cell wall. So it's a plant that has lost its chloroplasts after adaptation to a parasitic lifestyle. (Much the way flightless birds are still birds.)
Aha!
Thanks.


As for the underlined - yes that's not relevant to the question. I'd said from the get go I know it didn't photosynthesize - what I was asking was why is it classified as a plant. We don't have the genetic history of the plant - its all inference based on its current structure. We classify it based on certain minimal criteria - what are they? You are the poster that finally seems to have answered it. (Photosynthesis being absent here, and a cellulose cell wall not being sufficient per se to make it classified as a plant, as I indicated above).

Last edited by Chint; 03-04-2019 at 12:19 PM..
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