Brazilian specimens of the Solanaceae Source database became available today through SpeciesLink, Brazil's major biodiversity data portal. A total of 1,466 specimens of Solanaceae from the Natural History Museum London (BM) are now available within SpeciesLink searches, integrating the specialist database for the nightshade family with Brazil's digitally available collection data.
New species are not only found in the back of beyond - solanum gurus Lynn Bohs and Stephen Stern together with Jeff Keeling of Sul Ross State University have just described Solanum cordicitum from Valentine, Texas - proving that botanists have excellent senses of humour! Read the University of Utah press release here and the report in Science.
Brazilian botanists came together at a series of workshops held at the Brazilian 64th Congresso Nacional de Botânica in Belo Horizonte (Minas Gerais) to map out the ambitious project of describing the extraordinary plant diversity of the country by 2020, as a contribution to meeting the first target of the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation. Brazil holds almost 10% of the world’s plant diversity – understanding Brazil is really important for understanding global plant diversity!
Tiina Sarkinen and colleagues Lynn Bohs, Dick Olmstead and Sandy Knapp have published a species-rich phylogenetic tree of the nightshade family - with more than 1000 species included, this is the biggest Solanaceae phylogeny yet! They used fossils and molecular methods to put dates on lineages in the family - many of the main lineages date from about 25 million years ago. The tree and these well-calibrated dates will allow us to look at evolution of key characters in the family in a robust framework - a real first.