A University Don has decried the long-time deficient knowledge in plant reproduction and its crucial role in the yield and general performance of crop plants.

A Professor of Plant Reproductive Biology and Systematic in the Department of Biological Sciences of the College of Natural Sciences, (COLNAS), Prof. Muyiwa Segun Ayodele, gave this insight while delivering the 33rd Inaugural Lecture of the University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, last Wednesday.

Professor Ayodele said there was an alarming rate of ignorance about how plants reproduce within the literate communities, noting that the topic appeared de-emphasized, even among professional plant breeders.

The Lecturer attributed the development to the over-emphasis placed on issues of animal reproduction, in basic biology syllabus, at the detriment of plants, which he said enjoy “slight touch”.

In his Lecture titled “Flowers, Thorns and Thistles: The good, the bad and the ugly conglomerate colonizers of planet earth”, Professor

Ayodele said the flower, which is usually composed of the male and female parts, is the reproductive organ of the plant while thorns and thistles at times, play the role of warding-off external aggression as well as being pivotal in the ecological sustenance of the plant race.

Observing that man remains the greatest genocidal headache of plants, Professor Ayodele noted that hundreds of flowers were lost each flowering season, resulting in poor yield, as a result of selective breeding of some particular morphological traits without an understanding of the plant’s strategy for the trait.

According to the Biologist, “the implication of this is that there will be no end to such selection/breeding exercises for as long as they are done from the consideration of the selector/breeder to the exclusion of the plant”, with an example that the mango tree usually seen with several fruits displayed hanging on the inflorescence axis on the outer branches, often give a false impression of good performance.

The lecturer observed that man has even gone further (in Molecular Bio-engineering, including GMO products) into the marrying together of hereditary material from different sources, all in a bid to produce the unusual quality.

He however cautioned that such practice might be counter-productive in Nigeria, given the peculiar stage of the nation’s development, saying there is a glaring danger of genetic erosion which could compound the country’s complex unproductive agricultural practices.

Later in his remarks, the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Oluwafemi Balogun, extrapolated that the topic of the Inaugural Lecture was germane, even in the realm of humanity, observing that “it takes a thorny dimension at times, to maintain a balanced society, as such situation or people help to instill appropriate checks and balances”.

Professor Balogun stressed further that people, particularly leaders, must at times, be courageous enough to adorn the hardships of the ‘crown of thorns’, like the biblical Jesus, to salvage situations and make life worth living.