Grasses and people

Types of evidence used to study ancient grasses

Introduction to the types of evidence used to study grasses in the paleontological (fossil) and archaeological records, including macroremains, pollen, phytoliths, starch grains, mammal teeth, and isotopes.

Scanning electron micrograph (picture taken with a scanning electron microscope) of elephant grass (Cenchrus purpureus) phytoliths. The image shows a piece of epidermis with long cells and stomata.

Crop improvement

Introduction to crop improvement, including plant breeding and genetic engineering.

Photograph of a field of hybrid maize. On the right side of the field is a mowed area in which signs have been placed at regular intervals. The signs are yellow and white and are labeled with the brand and code for different types of seed. The nearest sign says "Supreme EX Brand Seed 1083AMX-R."


Overview of cereals, including the parts of a cereal, types of domesticated cereals, processing grain from cereals, and characteristics that changed during domestication of cereals.

Photograph of an ear of six-row barley. The photo shows dry spikelets with long awns attached to an ear of barley.


Introduction to sugar from grasses, including types of sugar, sugar from sugarcane, sweet sorghum and sorghum syrup, corn syrup, and high fructose corn syrup.

Photograph of a bowl of while sugar with a broken sugarcane stalk resting on it.


Introduction to biofuels from grasses, including bioethanol, cellulosic ethanol, biodiesel, and biogas and biomethane.

Photograph of fuel selection buttons on a gas pump. The options are E85 (85% ethanol), E30 (30% ethanol), E15 (15% ethanol), unleaded, and premium.