The chapter “Sometimes You Feel Like a Nut” of Hanson’s (2015) book presents the author’s empiric and exploration journey by understanding how seeds store and use energy for embryos and germination. The biologist attracts and captures readers’ attention not only by an eye-catching chapter title but also by the opening paragraphs, in which he describes his experience of enjoying a nut chocolate bar. Upon the disclosure of all the merits of nuts as seeds containing much energy, the scientist introduces his main empiric concerns. They are based on the ingredients and their composition as identified with the help of a microscope. Hanson saw that both coconut and almond contain a significant amount of protein. However, since the types of seeds are numerous, their composition varies, as well as their strategies of energy storage do (Hanson, 2015). Therefore, the biologist consulted his colleague Derek Bewley to clarify how seeds use proteins and oils to store energy and use it for reproduction.
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Following the discussion, the biologist arrives at several important conclusions. Firstly, “oil and fat-storing seeds have the most energy per weight,” implying that lipids give more energy than starch (Hanson, 2015, p. 45). Such a tendency is commonly applied to everyday human life when one eats a banana to receive fats energy and has nuts to obtain slow energy. Thus, people widely utilize the properties of seeds in many spheres of life.
Secondly, the biologist found that the variety of types of energy storage in seeds (in fat, protein, or even carbohydrate) is influenced by the diversity of ecosystems in which plants grow. Hanson (2015) connects such natural adjustment strategies with the theory of evolution and claims that “new seed strategies will emerge” (p. 48). Thirdly, there are some types of seeds like guar seeds which store their energy in the form of carbohydrates. Such a strategy allows guar seeds to protect its embryo form harmful draught in the desert where it grows. Lastly, the author claims that innovation in the evolution of seeds provokes innovation in their use, which is justified by the application of seed oils in the food industry, construction, minerals’ extraction, and other spheres of human performance (Hanson, 2015). Thus, the multiple ways the biology of seeds accommodates the environment indicates the infinite options of application of energy to human life.
Discussion of Main Ideas
The ideas discussed in Hanson’s (2015) chapter are addressed by other scientists and provide a scope of the interesting issue to cover. Indeed, Hanson claims that seeds as primary energy storage elements have great nutritional potential. This idea is broadly discussed by Sreenivasulu (2017), who emphasizes the need to fully examine what nutrients constitute a seed and how its metabolic processes might contribute to various spheres of human activities, including genetics. Similarly, according to Kumar et al. (2018), the nutritional capabilities of seeds, as well as their potential to store and transmit bio-energy, might be used in biotechnology. Both, Sreenivasulu (2017) and Kumar et al. (2018) support the idea that the incomplete scientific understanding of the bio-molecular features of seeds in all their variety is a mystery that should be uncovered. The information about the processes of energy storage might benefit nutrients and nutraceuticals production and use.
Inconsistency with Hanson’s (2015) idea concerning the complexity of metabolic processes in a seed, Li et al. (2015) underlines the importance of “balance of protein, lipid, and carbohydrate stored in the mature seed” (p. 1). While Hanson (2015) admires the complexity and evolution of the nutrient storing capabilities of seeds, Li et al. (2015) try to investigate the underlying processes on the example of soybeans. Moreover, they do not only see seed as the products of agriculture but also recommend integrating the genetic findings into the future of biogenetics. It is relevant to mentions that gene-specific processes in seeds are the sphere of interest of Sreenivasulu (2017) and Kumar et al. (2018) as well.
As mentioned above, Hanson (2015) devotes a significant part of his chapter to the discussion of the numerous applications of seeds and their properties in human life. In chord with these ideas, Mallek-Ayadi, Bahloul, and Kechaou (2018) have conducted research on bioactive compounds of Cucumis melo L. seeds to identify the possible ways of their usage. As the findings of this study show, melon seeds might be a valuable source of important nutrients and should be used as an alternative to plant oil (Mallek-Ayadi et al., 2018). Also, in his chapter, Hanson (2015) covers the unstudied features of guar seeds and the use of hydrocarbons found in this plant in oil and other industries. Another scientist, Baskar (2019), also paid attention to the unfolded properties of seeds and the possibility of using them in industries other than food production. According to the author of the article on Madhuca Indica seeds, this plant might be used as a source of energy, becoming a renewable alternative for oil and gas.
To sum up, the biology of seeds is a complex and unstudied scientific issue. According to Hanson (2015), the abilities of seeds to store big amounts of energy in the form of proteins, fats, or carbohydrates imply the evolutionary processes that will proceed in the future. A significant number of research studies have been conducted to identify the metabolic processes inside seeds and the possible ways of their application in different spheres of human life.
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Baskar, G. (2019). Madhuca Indica seeds: A potential source for industrial production of biodiesel. International Journal of Industrial Engineering, 3(2), 11-14.
Hanson, T. (2015). The triumph of the seeds. New York, NY: Basic Books.
Kumar, A., Pathak. A. K., Gayen, A., Gupta, S., Singh, M., Lata, C. … Gupta, S. M. (2018). Systems biology of seeds: decoding the secret of biochemical seed factories for nutritional security. 3 Biotech, 8(460), 1-16.
Li, L., Hur, M., Lee, J. Y., Zhou, W., Song, Z., Ransom, N. … Wurtele, E. S. (2015). A systems biology approach toward understanding seed composition in soybean. BMC Genomics, 16(3), 1-18.
Mallek-Ayadi, S., Bahloul, N., & Kechaou, N. (2018). Chemical composition and bioactive compounds of Cucumis melo L. seeds: Potential source for new trends of plant oils. Process Safety and Environmental Protection, 113, 68-77.
Sreenivasulu, N. (2017). Systems biology of seeds: deciphering the molecular mechanisms of seed storage, dormancy, and the onset of germination. Plant Cell Reports, 36, 633-635.