Missouri Botanical Garden makes rare discovery of plant genus

Mar 30, 2011

The Missouri Botanical Garden (MBG) has played a significant role in identifying a new genus, Yasunia, with two confirmed species from Ecuador and Peru, Y. quadrata and Y. sessiliflora.

New are often found among the samples that are gifted to the Missouri Botanical Garden for identification. While hundreds of new are identified each year, new genera are extremely uncommon, and being coupled with the two new species makes Yasunia very distinctive.

Henk van der Werff is the Head of Monographic Studies Department at the Missouri Botanical Garden. He explains, "There are many new species found mostly in the tropics each year. Typically, new species differ in minor characteristics from their close relatives. New genera differ in major characteristics from their relatives and such a find is truly a matter of luck and perseverance."

In 1993, MBG staff member David Neill collected the first sample in the lowlands of Ecuador, yet it remained an undetermined specimen due to the lack of detail, particularly of the flower which is needed for identification. Local staff conducting floristic inventory in the Yasuni National Park collected additional specimens from a tagged tree, ensuring that the information necessary for identification would become available. From these samples, it was determined that the characteristics present in the new specimens did not fit into any of the recognized Neotropical genera of Lauraceae.

In 2003 the collection of the second species was located in the upper Rio Utiquinia in Ucayali (Peru) near the border of Brazil. In minor details, it is very different from the Ecuadorian species.

DNA of the two Yasunia species and their related analysis may ultimately result in changes of the classification of the plant family.

"This is an extremely rare and exciting scenario. The two new species that were collected did not belong in a known genus, so what we suddenly had were both two new species and new genus. Usually, when a new genus is discovered, it is associated with only one species. It is very unusual to find two new species belonging to the same new . Yasunia with two new species is one of those very rare cases," said Van der Werff.

With scientists working in 35 countries on six continents around the globe, the has one of the three largest plant science programs in the world. The Garden's mission is "to discover and share knowledge about plants and their environment in order to preserve and enrich life."

Explore further: Big city life: New leafhopper species found on a threatened grass in New Jersey

Related Stories

8 new species discovered in Boliva national parks

Nov 04, 2010

Botanists at the Missouri Botanical Garden have described eight new plant species collected in the Madidi National Park and surrounding areas located on the eastern slopes of the Andes in northern Bolivia. The new species ...

New genus of tree discovered

Oct 15, 2010

An article published in the October issue of the Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden describes a new genus of tree of the Aptandraceae family, a group that is related to the sandalwoods (order Sanatalales). The genus, wh ...

35,000 new species 'sitting in cupboards'

Dec 07, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Of 70,000 species of flowering plants yet to be described by scientists, more than half may already have been collected but are lying unknown and unrecognised in collections around the world, ...

Discovering new localities of a rare species in Georgia

Mar 24, 2011

The Millennium Seed Bank Partnership team in Georgia made an exciting discovery in October last year when local nature lovers alerted the team to the presence of cyclamen in a district in West Georgia. ...

Recommended for you

Study shows grey squirrels are quick learners

13 hours ago

They may be viewed by some as an invasive species or a commonplace pest of public parks, but a new study from the University of Exeter has shown that grey squirrels are actually quick learners capable of ...

Age and fertility in social insects

16 hours ago

A new research unit coordinated at the University of Freiburg tackles the question of why the otherwise usual trade-off between fecundity and lifespan in multicellular organisms is not present in social insects ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.