Linear sequences for seed plants

Dec 21, 2011
Nicholas Hind organising specimens in the Kew Herbarium

Scientists have been working out the best way to arrange plant specimens in herbaria and other collections so that their order best reflects evolutionary relationships.

Classification systems are needed to organize our knowledge of the natural world and aid communication. use classifications that reflect the between , and base them on phylogenetic trees that are often branched. Specimen collections need to be arranged in a linear order (e.g. along shelves or in cupboards) so the branching nature of phylogenetic trees creates a problem for curators who wish to arrange collections in a manner that reflects the patterns of evolution rather than, for example, alphabetical order. Curators need an agreed ‘linear sequence’ to order their collections in a way that represents the phylogenetic classification.

Various linear sequences of plant families have been proposed, and a range of systems are in use. However, our understanding of the relationships between families has changed in recent years and many systems no longer represent this in the best way. Botanists at Kew have been collaborating with colleagues from Cornell University, the Finnish Museum of Natural History and the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh to construct new linear sequences for seed plants based on the current understanding of relationships gained through molecular phylogenetics.

Recommended linear sequences have been published in a special, open-access issue of the journal Phytotaxa, edited by Maarten Christenhusz (Finnish Museum of Natural History), Mark Chase and Mike Fay (Kew). One paper updates the linear sequence for flowering plants originally constructed by Haston et al. to accompany the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group III (APG III) classification in 2009. The paper also provides synonyms of the orders and families recognised by the APG III classification. A second paper gives a new classification and linear sequence for gymnosperms. In a third paper, other scientific colleagues provide a linear sequence to lycophytes and ferns.

The Herbarium at Kew will be re-organised to reflect the APG III classification. With an estimated 7 million specimens to move, this will be a gargantuan logistical operation that is expected to take two to three years!.

Explore further: Biomarker could provide early warning of kidney disease in cats

More information: Christenhusz, M., et al. (eds) (2011). Linear sequence, classification, synonymy, and bibliography of vascular plants: Lycophytes, ferns, gymnosperms and angiosperms. Phytotaxa 19: 1–134.

Haston, E., et al.(2009). The Linear Angiosperm Phylogeny Group (LAPG) III: a linear sequence of the families in APG III. Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 161: 128–131.

Provided by Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

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, ...

Rapid burst of flowering plants set stage for other species

Feb 09, 2009

A new University of Florida study based on DNA analysis from living flowering plants shows that the ancestors of most modern trees diversified extremely rapidly 90 million years ago, ultimately leading to the formation of ...

Recommended for you

What is a heritage turkey?

14 hours ago

Over 45 million turkeys are eaten by Americans each Thanksgiving, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Hunters provide some—last autumn, about 24,000 wild turkeys were harvested in Pennsylvania. ...

Researchers name new insect for 'Harry Potter' creature

15 hours ago

The series of "Harry Potter" fantasy books was the inspiration for the naming of a new insect discovered by NDSU researchers. The species of stink bug was named "Thestral incognitus," after the imaginary ...

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.