The species composition of regional plant assemblages can in large part be explained by a long history of biogeographical and evolutionary events. Traditional attempts of floristic studies typically focus on the analyses of taxonomic composition, often ignoring the rich context that evolutionary history can provide. In 2014, Swenson and Umana introduced the term ‘phylofloristics’ to define a phylogenetically enabled analysis of the species composition of regional floras. Integrating phylogenetic information into traditional floristic analysis can provide a promising way to explore the ecological, biogeographic, and evolutionary processes that drive plant assemblies at multiple spatial scales. In this review, we summarize the current progress on the phylogenetic structure, spatial phylogenetic pattern, origin and diversification, phylogenetic regionalization of floristic assemblages, and application of phylogenetic information in biodiversity conservation. These summaries highlight the importance of incorporating phylogenetic information to improve our understanding of floristic assembly from an evolutionary perspective. The review ends with a brief outlook on future challenges for phylofloristic studies, including generating a highly resolved species-level phylogenetic tree, compiling detailed and refined information regarding the geographic distribution of all plant life, extracting trait information from publications and herbarium specimens, and developing technological and methodological approaches for big data analysis.
The development of new taxonomical theories and approaches, particularly molecular phylogenetics, has led to the expansion of traditional morphology-based taxonomy into the concept of "integrative taxonomy." Taxonomic knowledge has assumed greater significance in recent years, particularly because of growing concerns over the looming biodiversity crisis. Since its establishment in 1938, the Kunming Institute of Botany (KIB), which is located in Yunnan province in Southwest China, has focused attention on the taxonomy and conservation of the flora of China. For the forthcoming 80th anniversary of KIB, we review the achievements of researchers at KIB and their associates with respect to the taxonomy of land plants, fungi, and lichen. Major taxonomic advances are summarized for families of Calymperaceae, Cryphaeaceae, Lembophyllaceae, Neckeraceae, Polytrichaceae and Pottiaceae of mosses, Pteridaceae and Polypodiaceae of ferns, Taxaceae and Cycadaceae of gymnosperms, Asteraceae, Begoniaceae, Ericaceae, Euphorbiaceae, Gesneriaceae, Lamiaceae, Orchidaceae, Orobanchaceae, Poaceae, Theaceae and Urticaceae of angiosperms, Agaricaceae, Amanitaceae, Boletaceae, Cantharellaceae, Physalacriaceae Russulaceae, Suillaceae and Tuberaceae of fungi, and Ophioparmaceae and Parmeliaceae of lichens. Regarding the future development of taxonomy at KIB, we recommend that taxonomists continue to explore the biodiversity of China, integrate new theories and technologies with traditional taxonomic approaches, and engage in creative monographic work, with support from institutions, funding agencies, and the public.
The rapid expansion of next-generation sequencing (NGS) has generated a powerful array of approaches to address fundamental questions in biology. Several genome-partitioning strategies to sequence selected subsets of the genome have emerged in the fields of phylogenomics and evolutionary genomics. In this review, we summarize the applications, advantages and limitations of four NGS-based genomepartitioning approaches in plant phylogenomics:genome skimming, transcriptome sequencing (RNA-seq), restriction site associated DNA sequencing (RAD-Seq), and targeted capture (Hyb-seq). Of these four genome-partitioning approaches, targeted capture (especially Hyb-seq) shows the greatest promise for plant phylogenetics over the next few years. This review will aid researchers in their selection of appropriate genome-partitioning approaches to address questions of evolutionary scale, where we anticipate continued development and expansion of whole-genome sequencing strategies in the fields of plant phylogenomics and evolutionary biology research.
Yunnan is exceedingly rich in higher fungi (Ascomycota and Basidiomycota). Given that the number of fungi (including lichens) occurring in a given area is, as Hawksworth suggested, roughly six times that of local vascular plants, a total of approximately 104,000 fungal species would be expected in Yunnan. However, to date only about 6000 fungal species, including roughly 3000 species of higher fungi, have been reported from the province. Although studies on Yunnan's fungi started in the late nineteenth century, significant progress has been made only in the last forty-five years. Over the first twenty-five years of this period, studies on fungal diversity in this area have largely been about taxonomy based on morphological characters and partially on geographical distribution. Over the past twenty years, the combination of both morphological and molecular phylogenetic approaches has become the preferred method to help understand the diversity and evolution of higher fungi. This review focuses on our current knowledge of how geological, geographical, and ecological factors may have contributed to the diversity patterns of higher fungi in Yunnan. Based on this knowledge, three aspects for future studies are suggested.
China is one of most biodiverse countries in the world, containing at least 10% of all angiosperm species. Therefore, we should anticipate a diverse, pollinator fauna. China also has a long history of applied ethnobiology, including a sustainable agriculture based on apiculture and plant-pollinator interactions. However, the science of pollination ecology is a far younger sub-discipline in China, compared to in the West. Chinese studies in pollination ecology began in the 1970s. For this review, we compiled a complete reference database (>600 publications) of pollination studies in China. Using this database, we identified and analyzed gaps and limitations in research on the pollination systems of native and naturalized species. Specifically, we asked the following questions:1) What do we know about the pollination systems of native, Chinese species? 2) How does Chinese pollination ecology compare with the development of pollination research abroad and which aspects of research should be pursued by Chinese anthecologists in the near future? 3) What research on pollination in China will advance our understanding and contribute to our ongoing analyses of endemism and conservation? Subsequently, we segregated and identified prospective lines of future research that are unique to China and can only be done in China. This requires discussing priorities within a systematic approach.
Plant diversity is currently being lost at an unprecedented rate, resulting in an associated decrease in ecosystem services. About a third of the world's vascular plant species face the threat of extinction due to a variety of devastating activities, including, over-harvesting and over exploitation, destructive agricultural and forestry practices, urbanization, environmental pollution, land-use changes, exotic invasive species, global climate change, and more. We therefore need to increase our efforts to develop integrative conservation approaches for plant species conservation. Botanical gardens devote their resources to the study and conservation of plants, as well as making the world's plant species diversity known to the public. These gardens also play a central role in meeting human needs and providing well-being. In this minireview, a framework for the integrated missions of botanical gardens, including scientific research, in/ex situ conservation, plant resource utilization, and citizen science are cataloged. By reviewing the history of the development of Kunming Botanical Garden, we illustrate successful species conservation approaches (among others, projects involving Camellia, Rhododendron, Magnolia, Begonia, Allium, Nepenthes, medicinal plants, ornamental plants, and Plant Species with Extreme Small Populations), as well as citizen science, and scientific research at Kunming Botanical Garden over the past 80 years. We emphasize that Kunming Botanical Garden focuses largely on the ex situ conservation of plants from Southwest China, especially those endangered, endemic, and economically important plant species native to the Yunnan Plateau and the southern Hengduan Mountains. We also discuss the future challenges and responsibilities of botanical gardens in a changing world, including:the negative effects of outbreeding and/or inbreeding depression; promoting awareness, study, and conservation of plant species diversity; accelerating global access to information about plant diversity; increasing capacity building and training activities. We hope this minireview can promote understanding of the role of botanical gardens.
Plants have sophisticated defense systems to fend off insect herbivores. How plants defend against herbivores in dicotyledonous plants, such as Arabidopsis and tobacco, have been relatively well studied, yet little is known about the defense responses in monocotyledons. Here, we review the current understanding of rice (Oryza sativa) and maize (Zea mays) defense against insects. In rice and maize, elicitors derived from insect herbivore oral secretions or oviposition fluids activate phytohormone signaling, and transcriptomic changes mediated mainly by transcription factors lead to accumulation of defense-related secondary metabolites. Direct defenses, such as trypsin protein inhibitors in rice and benzoxazinoids in maize, have anti-digestive or toxic effects on insect herbivores. Herbivory-induced plant volatiles, such as terpenes, are indirect defenses, which attract the natural enemies of herbivores. R gene-mediated defenses against herbivores are also discussed.
The Orchidaceae is a diverse and wide spread family of flowering plants that are of great value in ornamental, medical, conservation, and evolutionary research. The broad diversity in morphology, growth form, life history, and habitat mean that the members of Orchidaceae exhibit various physiological properties. Epiphytic orchids are often characterized by succulent leaves with thick cell walls, cuticles, and sunken stomata, whereas terrestrial orchids possess rhizomes, corms, or tubers. Most orchids have a long juvenile period, slow growth rate, and low photosynthetic capacity. This reduced photosynthetic potential can be largely explained by CO2 diffusional conductance and leaf internal structure. The amount of light required for plant survival depends upon nutritional mode, growth form, and habitat. Most orchids can adapt to their light environments through morphological and physiological adjustments but are sensitive to sudden changes in irradiance. Orchids that originate from warm regions are susceptible to chilling temperatures, whereas alpine members are vulnerable to high temperatures. For epiphytic orchids, rapid water uptake by the velamen radicum, water storage in their pseudobulbs and leaves, slow water loss, and Crassulacean Acid Metabolism contribute to plant-water balance and tolerance to drought stress. The presence of the velamen radicum and mycorrhizal fungi may compensate for the lack of root hairs, helping with quick absorbance of nutrients from the atmosphere. Under cultivation conditions, the form and concentration of nitrogen affect orchid growth and flowering. However, the limitations of nitrogen and phosphorous on epiphytic orchids in the wild, which require these plants to depend on mycorrhizal fungi for nutrients throughout the entire life cycle, are not clearly understood. Because they lack endosperm, seed germination depends upon obtaining nutrients via mycorrhizal fungi. Adult plants of some autotrophic orchids also gain carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, and other elements from their mycorrhizal partners. Future studies should examine the mechanisms that determine slow growth and flower induction, the physiological causes of variations in flowering behavior and floral lifespan, the effects of nutrients and atmospheric-nitrogen deposition, and practical applications of mycorrhizal fungi in orchid cultivation.