Issue 37: July 2001
News from the Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research, Australian National Herbarium (CANB), for the information of CPBR and ANBG staff and volunteers.
This is your newsletter; please contribute news relating to the Centre.
Val Oliver: ph (02) 6246 5533; fax (02) 6246 5249; email: Val.Oliver@pi.csiro.au
Farewells 1. Herbarium
1.1 Visitors to the Herbarium during the Legume Conference
The south-side bench, Level 1of the new wing, in the Herbarium was a hive of activity during the Legume Conference. The Legume families of Mimosaceae, Cesalpiniaceae and Fabaceae were given a really good work over, especially the non-Australian unidentified material at the end of each family. Many of these specimens are at least now identified to genus if not down to species. There were several interstate and international visitors present who worked on a variety of groups as listed below.
Dr. J. Chappill, University of Western Australia, WA, Australia, Jacksonia & Gompholobium (Fab.)
Dr Q. Cronk, (E) Edinburgh, UK, Fabaceae and Cyrtandra (Gesneriaceae)
Ms Xin-Fen Gao, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Chengdu, China, Desmodium (Fab.)
Dr J. Grimes, (MEL), Vic., Australia, Mimosaceae
Dr T. Kajita, (TI), University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan, Canavallia (Fab.) and Convolvulus (Convolvulaceae), floating seeds
Dr G. Lewis, (K), UK, legumes in general
Mrs B. Mackinder, (K), UK, Berlinia Ceasalpiniaceae
Prof. J. van der Maesen, (WAG) Wageningen, The Netherlands, Tribe Cajaneae, Cajanus & Rhynchosia (Fab.)
Prof. H. Ohashi, Tohoko University, Sendai Miyagi, Japan, Desmodium (Fab.)
Dr D. Pokle, Deogiri College, Aurangabad Maharashtra, India, Alysicarpus (Fab.)
Dr J. Ridder-Numan, Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, Rijswijk, The Netherlands, Spatholobium, Kunstleria (Fab.)
Dr J. Ross, (MEL), Vic., Australia, Bossiaea (Fab.)
Dr B. Simpson, University of Texas, Texas, USA, Krameria (Krameriaceae) & Ceasalpiniaceae
Dr J. Wieringa, (WAG) Wageningen, The Netherlands, Ceasalpiniaceae
Dr Ming-Li Zhang, Chinese Academy of Science, Guangdong, China, Astragalus (Fab.)
Dr Xiang-Yun Zhu, Chinese Academy of Science, Bejing, China, Oxytropis (Fab.)
Ros Grace parted company with Loans and Ferns (and Caesalps) on 20 July, to return to warmer climes on the south coast - lucky her! She was farewelled with a morning tea and lunch, and presented with a framed herbarium specimen of a fern, no less! as well as Don and Betty Woods' 3 part field guide to native plants of the south coast. We wish her all the best in her business endeavour at Bateman's Bay, and thank her for her hard work in the herbarium over the last three years.
Backfilling for Ros in Loans will be Peter Turner (intern 2001) for August and September and Bronwyn Collins takes up the position from October. Ros' contribution to the fern www project is being taken over by Andrew Lyne.
2. Research Groups
2.1 Legume Conference - Acacia Symposium
I am relieved to write that the Fourth International Legume Conference is over and was a success. There were over 100 participants at the conference with people from all continents except Antarctica. I was very pleased that there were very few logistical or technical problems and that the weather was cooperative. It was very useful time for legume workers to get together and to continue the work on legume phylogeny and other topics.
After much discussion a framework has been laid out to publish many but not all papers in two proceedings that will follow in the Advances in Legume Systematics series. We hope that CSIRO Publishing and Kew will publish volumes. Kew will publish higher level systematic papers. CSIRO Publishing, under a special issue of Australian Journal of Botany and the Advances series, will publish a special issue on biology of Acacia. This issue will contain papers from the systematics, utilization and the legume-animal interaction symposia. Other symposia hope to publish a set of papers in journals appropriate to their fields.
During the conference a group of Acacia/Mimosoid workers met to talk about nomenclature issues. It appears that an effort is underway to make all the name changes to Racosperma. This was met with disdain by many people especially given that the Flora of Australia Acacia volumes and the Wattle Interactive key are currently at the printers. The current understanding of Acacia shows that it is polyphyletic with at least 4 lineages within the genus. Acacia subgenus Acacia is nested deep within the tribe Mimosoideae. The name change could affect 1200 of the 1400 species of Acacia. Bruce Maslin and Tony Orchard have agreed to petition the International Nomenclature Committee on two issues. First regards the validity of Racosperma, as some doubts exist if it validly refers to Australian Acacias. On this note Racosperma is of Greek neuter origin while Acacia is Latin and feminine. Hence changing a species to Racosperma will also necessitate changing the specific epithet as well! The second proposal is to retypify Acacia to an Australian species. Name changes have enormous political and financial repercussions and these will be investigated and quantified during the proposal process.
After the conference 10 people set out for WA and the post conference field trip. This ended on a Thursday in Dalwallinu WA where I caught up with the crowd for the Acacia utilization symposium. This was a wonderful success with over 150 participants of many interests including scientists, landcare workers and locals. Dalwallinu is a small wheat farming shire but it is also the world center of Acacia diversity with something like 150 species in a 50 km radius of the town. The shire put on a great conference with great local support. The symposia contained papers about taxonomy as well as the utilization of Acacia for food, medicine, salinity control, sandalwood hosts and biofuel. I presented a paper on our mulga work. Following the 1 1/2 day symposia I went to Mt Magnet area to collect Mulga. Melissa Luckow of Cornell University went with me. She and I are collaborating on the phylogeny of the Mimosoideae. The area was quite dry but we were able to find a few flowers and developing pods. I wanted these materials to look at the development of apomixis in Mulga.
2.2 Quentin Cronk - RBGE to CSIRO
When I realised that there were two conferences in Australia 2.5 months apart (Legumes Down Under and Flora Malesiana) I started planning an escape from phones and committees for the whole of the boreal summer, and an opportunity to think through some new research directions. The main one of these concerns Cyrtandra (Gesneriaceae) which has about 600 species (300 described) in the forests of SE Asia. Ubiquitous in the rain forest and showing narrow endemism, it is potentially a good group for examining patterns of biodiversity and evolution in Malesia. We now have an ITS phylogeny of about 90 species (only 510 to go!) from recent fieldwork in Borneo, the Philippines, the Pacific, Sulawesi and Sumatra. New Guinea, where the genus is most speciose, is our major omission and I have been going through the CSIRO collections from PNG with a view to setting up fieldwork projects there. I am also developing non-parametric methods for reliably dating nodes on the phylogeny (with confidence intervals -so we can have ball-park absolute dates for the establishment of biogeographical features (I would be happy to discuss this approach with anyone interested!).
My thanks to: (1) CSIRO/Judy West for giving me temporary asylum (2) the Faculty Committee of Edinburgh University for letting me out of their clutches until next term.
[Quentin Cronk - Edinburgh University and Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh]
Quentin is very welcome to be here as a visitor and has been interacting with various staff. However, he will not be able to escape Brendan and Jo's clutches until he has completed the identification of the 600 or so indet collections of Cyrtandra. Thanks for your efforts so far Quentin.
The identification of plant species is a fundamental activity in plant diversity survey. Misidentification of a plant will result in invalid data and perhaps misapplication of the results of a survey or research.
The cases often occur when we work in an area when biodiversity may be poorly studied or poorly documented such as from New Guinea as the one of the biodiversity hot spots in Asia. My work is based on the fact that many endemic and new plant species have been recorded from New Guinea, including in the Sapotaceae family. Many Sapotaceae specimens were collected from West Papua since 1900s. However some of those collections have been identified only to generic level. More specimens remain unidentified while others are very likely misidentified.
In order to enable botanists and non botanists to identify and to reduce the number of misidentifications of Sapotaceae specimens, an electronic identification key to the generic level is now being constructed at CANB. The key is in LuCID software, using 33 generic characters after van Royen (1959), Baehni (1965), Pennington (1991) and the 5 years personal experience in dealing with the family. Approximately 325 specimens have been examined and 12 genera of Sapotaceae from New Guinea have now been added into the LuCID key including the scored character states for those 12 genera. The work is ongoing, especially in generating images to support the character states. The 1st prototype of the key will be completed by the middle of August.
Teguh's visit to the Centre is supported by a CSIRO-LIPI award which he successfully applied for last year. For those of you who have not yet had a chance to chat with him, Teguh undertook overseas postgraduate studies as part of the Indonesian GEF Biodiversity Collections Project, and is of the same cohort of students as Lina. He decided to tackle the family Sapotaceae and went to University of Reading and Kew to do his Masters.
He seems to be making great progress with his project here. Teguh will be with us for about 3 months and will be attending the Flora Malesiana meeting and the interactive identification workshop in Atherton as well, returning to Indonesia at the end of September. It sounds as though he will already have something to demonstrate by then.
2.4 Visitors from France
Dr. Kader Aïnouche and Professor Marie-Thérèse Misset of the University of Rennes in France visited Canberra to attend the Legumes Downunder conference. Kader presented a paper at the conference on the phylogeny of Lupinus and Ulex. Both are specialists in Genistoid legumes and have had a long ongoing collaboration with me. During their stay we discussed future projects involving Lupinus and Ulex. Our future focus for Lupinus will be to include South American Lupines in our next analysis, and I will collect Argentine species during my trip to the Argentine next January. As one day of the conference was cancelled, as well as a two day post-conference field trip to the coast that they had planned to go on, they had quite a bit more time seeing the sights in Canberra than they had initially anticipated. We had a two day field trip to collect Ulex for future studies on genetic diversity in introduced genistoid weeds.
2.5 Summer Scholarships
Summer Scholarships 2001-2002
The Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research is a collaborative link between CSIRO Plant Industry and Environment Australia, that aims to promote the study, documentation and conservation of Australias botanical heritage. The research interests of staff in the Centre range widely across many aspects of the phylogeny and systematics of Australias flora, its utilisation, and its conservation particularly in the face of habitat fragmentation and natural and threatening processes such as fire, disease and invasive weeds.
To promote the Centres aims and foster the development of interest in these areas of research, the Centre is offering 5 to 6 scholarships during the summer of 2001-2002 in the following areas:
1. An assessment of species richness within the Labiate genus
Teucrium in Australia
Supervisor: Dr Rogier de Kok. Ph: (02) 6246 5177. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
2. Investigating the interaction between barley and the scald pathogen
Supervisor: Dr Ruth Genger. Ph: (02) 6246 5411. Email: email@example.com
3. Relationships between Fusarium oxysporum associated
with wild cottons and oxysporum f.sp. vasinfectum causing vascular
wilt on cultivated cottons
Supervisor: Dr B. Wang. Ph: (02) 6246 4984. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
4. Genetic diversity among Australian cotton cultivars (G.
Supervisor: Dr A. Becerra. Ph: (02) 6246 4984. Email: email@example.com
5. Is there more than one species in the Asterelle drummondii
complex of the NSW region?
Supervisor: Dr C. Cargill. Ph: (02) 6250 9464. Email: Christine.Cargill@deh.gov.au
6. Impact of tree isolation on seed set, seed size and viability in Eucalyptus benthamii.
Supervisors: Mr Craig Gardiner. Ph:(02) 6281 8202. Email: Craig.Gardiner@ffp.csiro.au & Dr Penny Butcher Ph: (02) 6281 8289. Email: Penny.Butcher@ffp.csiro.au
7. Variation in root set on selected Eucalyptus grandis cuttings.
Supervisor: Dr Chris Harwood. Ph: (02) 6281 8243. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
8. Variation in root set and cuttings methods for Melaleuca alternifolia.
Supervisor: John Doran. Ph: (02) 6281 8319. Email: email@example.com
The scholarships will run for a 10 week period from early December 2001 to late February 2002. During that time, successful applicants will be expected to undertake full-time work on the chosen project. The scholarships are open for competition among students completing their second or third year of study in an appropriate discipline at an Australian University. Remuneration is at a rate of $400-$500 per week depending upon the year of study of the successful applicant. Income tax is payable on this stipend.
Applications should include a statement of your research interests and future goals, curriculum vitae, a statement of your current study program and university transcript, and the names and addresses of two referees, at least one of whom should be able to comment on your University career. It is important that all these documents are provided to ensure your application is fully assessed. It is essential for you to nominate your order of preference for consideration of the projects. Applicants are strongly advised to obtain further details of projects of interest by looking up our Web Site (http://www.anbg.gov.au/cpbr), or contacting the appropriate Project Supervisor.
Applications close on 14 September 2001
Completed applications should be marked "Summer Scholarships" and addressed to:
Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research
GPO Box 1600
CANBERRA ACT 2601
3. Education and Communication
John Pate and Kathy Meney, authors of Australian Rushes, have won the 2001 Henry Allan Gleason Award of The New York Botanical Garden for their book. The award is presented annually for an outstanding publication in the fields of plant taxonomy, plant ecology, or plant geography. This book was the first joint publication between ABRS and University of Western Australia Press. The second joint publication between ABRS and UWAPress, Marine Plants of Australia, is currently shortlisted for another international award.
3.2 ABRS Advisory Committee
The ABRS Advisory committee met on 26 & 27th July, and this was the last formal meeting for Judy West who has served on the committee for 6 years, and for many years before that on the Flora Editorial Committee. Her leadership and vision for taxonomy has been a great strength that ABRS will sorely miss. Judy's input to ABRS has been substantial over the years and we take this small opportunity to thank her for all her effort. Her time on the committee comes to an end in December 2001, but before she goes she will continue to play an important role in reviewing and upgrading how ABRS manages the Participatory Grant process.
Many thanks Judy.
The United States Department of Agriculture, Plant Protection and Quarantine
was recently issued a licence to publish a slide of Ottelia alismoides
from the Gardens' collection in their 'Noxious Weed Identification Collection'.
Part of our licence agreement is that the licensee provide a copy of any publication using our images and the USDA obligingly complied. The publication proved to be a ring clip binder containing written information, slides of various weeds plus samples of their seeds.
In my innocence I thought what lovely little things the seeds were and showed them to Andrew Lyne who was working next to me. Andrew's immediate reaction was to ask if it had been through quarantine. Ooops! The FedEx parcel was marked "book" so it had not.
Although the seeds had been treated at a laboratory in the US this did not
meet Australian requirements, so thanks to Andrew's vigilance, Helen Hadobas's
advice and help from Gary Orr at Plant Industry the "book" is now awaiting irradiation
to ensure the seeds will never cause any problems. The slides have been removed
as we do not know what effect irradiation would have on them .
One Photograph Curator is also now more aware of quarantine procedures and sincerely hopes nobody ever sends seeds with their publication again.
Australian National Botanic Gardens
3.4 Promotion in the Sun Herald Sun
Graeme O'Neill, once a member of the CPBR Advisory Committee, is still actively promoting the Centre and its activities. In a long article published in Melbourne's Sunday Herald Sun on 29 July he wrote about the 'Greening the Grainbelt' project and the work Pete Thrall and Jeremy Burdon are doing with Acacia and Bradyrhizobium.
He finished with the words "The CPBR is an indispensable centre of excellence for Australian botanical research, a repository of invaluable knowledge and a leader in disseminating that information to the community" and we didn't pay him for this. We will have to watch it doesn't go to our heads!
Australian National Botanic Gardens
4. Information Technology and Data Management
Fern Conservation Conference
Jim Croft has been attending a fern conservation conference in the United Kingdom. Jim will contribute some comments on that and other IT issues for the next newsletter.
5. General Centre Matters
Microscope Maintenance & Acquisition
Now that Jen Johnston is back in the Centre, she is taking up responsibility for the microscopes for the Centre. Almost everybody uses microscopes at some stage of the year. Please make sure from now on that you see Jen for any microscope maintenance matters, including lighting and servicing as it comes round each year.
Thanks to Kirsten for coordinating this task for a number of years.
6. Other News
6.1 Dave Gordon dies at age 102
Born 9 July 1899 at Talbot, Victoria, David Morrice Gordon died on 28 July 2001 at Surat, Queensland.
In his lifetime he established what is now known as Myall Park Botanic Garden at Glenmorgan, with collections of Australian plants, seeds, pressed plant specimens, and a botanical library. In the early 1950s while running his grazing property Dave employed a gardener and sent a seed collector to Western Australia to collect material which contributed greatly to his botanic garden.
Daves best known legacy is probably his breeding of Grevillea Robyn Gordon, named for one of his daughters who later died of cancer as a child. It is probably Australias best known and most often grown cultivar, and was the first one registered by the ACRA.
In 1987 he was honoured with the Order of Australia for services to horticulture and conservation. In 1992 Myall park was placed on the Register of the National Estate.
Australian National Botanic Gardens
6.2 There is a new desk in Judys office. Will we ever see it this clean again?
[Murray Fagg and Val Oliver]
7. Diary of Events/Activities
Details (relate to projects)
29 July-2 August.
Annual meeting of Society of Conservation Biology in Hilo, Hawaii
Biodiversity Sector External Review
Judy West, Jeremy Burdon
EA SES Conference
Flora Malesiana Workshops
Flora Malesiana Symposium