Hotspot reveals new kangaroo paws

Oct 23, 2013 by Lisa Morrison
Hotspot reveals new kangaroo paws
A new species of the Anigozanthos genus kangaroo paw from the southern forest in Albany. Credit: S Hopper

Two new species of kangaroo paw have been discovered in WA's biodiversity hotspot – the south-west of Australia – thanks to DNA sequencing.

UWA's Winthrop Professor of Biodiversity Stephen Hopper performed DNA sequencing on two kangaroo paws at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, England, in collaboration with postdoctoral fellow Doctor Rhian Smith.

Prof Hopper says the were thought to be common bicolor kangaroo paws (Anigozanthos bicolor) but molecular sequencing revealed they differ genetically.

"The DNA has helped us unravel this evolutionary history of the kangaroo paws and very clearly shown there are two new of kangaroo paw that have evolved at least twice independently," Prof Hopper says.

"They have been right under our noses but until we could look into DNA sequencing it was not clear that these two plants are quite different genetically to the bicoloured kangaroo paw.

"You can apply the technique of studying DNA to any living organism including plants … it is a very powerful, repeatable scientific approach to determining relationships."

DNA is taken from living leaf tissue sampled in the wild and a herbarium specimen to confirm identification and construct a 'tree' of species evolution.

"DNA is extracted in the Jodrell laboratory and the base pairs along selected parts of the molecule are sequenced by standard molecular techniques," he says.

"The gene regions selected are those that have become standard globally and found to vary among species across many groups of plants so that novel sequences can be compared with global records to confirm each sequence is producing accurate reproducible results.

"Standard statistical programs are then used to construct a phylogenetic tree from the sequence data, clearly illustrating relationships among species and so the statistical confidence can be placed on each branch in the 'evolutionary' tree for the organisms studied."

He says the discovery demonstrates WA's south-west is a biodiversity hotspot of global significance.

"The south-west from Shark Bay to Israelite Bay is the second richest biodiversity hotspot on the planet with a temperate climate."

"It is estimated something like 14 per cent of the plants in the south-west are still yet to be named scientifically.

"That percentage is equivalent to many rainforest areas so the south-west is right up there globally if you want to discover a new species and is an area gaining international attention."

The new species are yet to be named.

Explore further: New DNA test on roo poo identifies species

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

New DNA test on roo poo identifies species

Jun 06, 2013

( —University of Adelaide researchers have developed a simple and cost-effective DNA test to identify kangaroo species from their droppings which will boost the ability to manage and conserve kangaroo populations.

The first kangaroo genome sequence

Aug 19, 2011

Kangaroos form an important niche in the tree of life, but until now their DNA had never been sequenced. In an article newly published in BioMed Central's open access journal Genome Biology, an international consor ...

Protecting living fossil trees

Mar 02, 2012

Scientists are working to protect living fossil trees in Fiji from the impact of climate change with cutting-edge DNA sequencing technology.

Sequencing hundreds of chloroplast genomes now possible

Jan 31, 2013

Researchers at the University of Florida and Oberlin College have developed a sequencing method that will allow potentially hundreds of plant chloroplast genomes to be sequenced at once, facilitating studies of molecular ...

Recommended for you

Male monkey filmed caring for dying mate (w/ Video)

Apr 18, 2014

( —The incident was captured by Dr Bruna Bezerra and colleagues in the Atlantic Forest in the Northeast of Brazil.  Dr Bezerra is a Research Associate at the University of Bristol and a Professor ...

Orchid named after UC Riverside researcher

Apr 17, 2014

One day about eight years ago, Katia Silvera, a postdoctoral scholar at the University of California, Riverside, and her father were on a field trip in a mountainous area in central Panama when they stumbled ...

In sex-reversed cave insects, females have the penises

Apr 17, 2014

Researchers reporting in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on April 17 have discovered little-known cave insects with rather novel sex lives. The Brazilian insects, which represent four distinct but re ...

Fear of the cuckoo mafia

Apr 17, 2014

If a restaurant owner fails to pay the protection money demanded of him, he can expect his premises to be trashed. Warnings like these are seldom required, however, as fear of the consequences is enough to ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Researchers successfully clone adult human stem cells

( —An international team of researchers, led by Robert Lanza, of Advanced Cell Technology, has announced that they have performed the first successful cloning of adult human skin cells into stem ...

Plants with dormant seeds give rise to more species

Seeds that sprout as soon as they're planted may be good news for a garden. But wild plants need to be more careful. In the wild, a plant whose seeds sprouted at the first warm spell or rainy day would risk disaster. More ...

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.

Health care site flagged in Heartbleed review

People with accounts on the enrollment website for President Barack Obama's signature health care law are being told to change their passwords following an administration-wide review of the government's vulnerability to the ...