Systematics Section / ASPT
Lepis, Kate B. , Jaworski, Jillian , Struwe, Lena .
Teasing apart the hidden species within the widely distributed herb Chelonanthus alatus (Gentianaceae).
The flowering genus Chelonanthus is part of the monophyletic Symbolanthus clade within the tribe Helieae, but the genus itself is not a natural group. Taxonomically the genus is also troubled by a history of multiple name changes. At the heart of the confusion is the widely distributed Chelonanthus alatus, which inhabits open areas and disturbed sites across tropical Central and South America. This weedy species is highly variable in its morphology and is associated with more than 35 possible synonyms, encompassing 15 described species. As part of a revision of the genus, the legitimacy of these 15 names will be put to the test using two analytical methods, Principle Component Analysis (PCA) and parsimony. A quantitative morphological data matrix is being analyzed using PCA, while parsimony is being used for a combined data matrix of morphological characters and nuclear ribosomal ITS sequences. Chelonanthus alatus has medicinal values for treating stomach aches as well as applying to wounds to prevent and cure parasitic infections. This species is also one of the few herbs that are pollinated by bats. Sorting out taxonomic and systematic confusion is necessary in order to develop management strategies that will effectively conserve the highest and most diverse number of evolutionary lineages. With Chelonanthus alatus wide distribution and morphological variation, it is highly probable that rare, narrowly endemic species are currently hidden inside this taxon by no recognition and these could become extinct unless proper taxonomic studies resolve this issue.
Gentian Research Network
1 - Rutgers University, Ecology, Evolution, & Natural Resources, 14 College Farm Rd, New Brunswick, New Jersey, 08901, USA
2 - Rutgers University, Plant Biology and Pathology, Foran Hall, 59 Dudley Road, New Brunswick, New Jersey, 08901, USA
Presentation Type: Paper
Location: Cottonwood A (Snowbird Center)
Date: Wednesday, August 4th, 2004
Time: 2:45 PM