Wheat as a scientific object: experimental breeding in transit
María J Santesmases
(Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC))
Paper short abstract:
I present a history of wheat as a seed from agriculture to the cytogenetic laboratory, that includes the work in plant heredity and cytogenetics as the origins of the co-production in the 1960s of a hybrid of wheat and rye at Aula Dei experimental station in Zaragoza, Spain.
Paper long abstract:
Experimental methods set up for plant research, for botany and to look at the small parts within, also made visible small parts of animal species. Plants often emerge in historical reconstructions as roots and transits from the cell to the human being, in regard to both concepts and methods, tools and images. I explore here wheat, wheat cells, and methods to reveal wheat chromosomes as a reflection on the history of wheat as a research subject and its influence on the epistemology of living things. In biomedicine, the animal and human body, concepts constructed in plant research, plant collection and characterisation show the exchange of meanings and tools between human culture and plant studies. I suggest a focus on the at-times pioneer, at-times intermediate, space that botany, agriculture and agronomy became in the history of biology, and particularly on their epistemic practices. To this aim, I will present a history of wheat as a seed that transited from agronomy to the cytogenetic laboratory. I will show the work in plant heredity and cytogenetics from the early days of wheat chromosomes to the co-production in the 1960s of a hybrid of wheat and rye at Aula Dei experimental station in Zaragoza, Spain. Through this historical reconstruction I will reflect on the role played by cereal species in the history of heredity and genetics that shows the extent to which theories and proposals, methods and styles of working with plants are agents in the construction of contemporary genetic knowledge and practices.
The field and the farm in the production of biomedical knowledge