Researchers Name New Plant Genus After UW Professor
Gregbrownia brownii, one of four new species of Bromeliaceae, growing in a tree within the Andes Mountains.
h/t Dr. Greg Brown and the University of Wyoming.
(Gillette, Wyo.) A newly discovered genus belonging to the plant family, Bromeliaceae– more commonly recognized as the pineapple family, has been named after University of Wyoming (UW) Botany Professor, Dr. Greg Brown.
According to a news release received this morning from UW, the new genus, Gregbrownia, includes the four species brownii, fulgens, hutchisonii, and lyman-smithii. Easily identified by their distinct circular arrangement of leaves, approximately 1 meter in diameter, members of the genus Gregbrownia can be found growing both on trees and on land within the Andes Mountain Range bordering northern Ecuador and Peru.
A specialist in plant systematics, Brown focused much of his attention on a specific realm within botany that deals with the more taxonomic aspect of the discipline. In biology, taxonomy refers to the specific naming of plants and animals, and this is exactly where Brown decided to focus, on the naming of genus’ and species’ within the Bromeliaceae family.
Whenever a specific plant or animal is assigned a scientific name within modern plant systematics, that name may no longer apply if the species experiences even the subtlest of changes to its anatomy and physiology. Over time, one species may slightly change and become two species, three species, four species, and so on. This phenomenon was well demonstrated by two of Dr. Brown’s colleagues, Walter Till and Michael Barfuss from the University of Vienna, who are currently being credited with the discovery of Gregbrownia. The newly discovered genus was found within an already existing genus known as Mezobromelia. By analyzing the DNA sequence and assessing the morphological (form and structure) data of Gregbrownia, the researchers found that there existed a number of differences between Gregbrownia and Mezobromelia and ultimately identified them as two separate species.
“The goal of modern plant systematics is to only name groups of species that are monophyletic (having only one origin)” Brown said in the release. “When a researcher finds a new, well-supported monophyletic group (clade) within an already-recognized genus, the group has to receive a new name at the appropriate taxonomic rank. In the case of the species in Mezobromelia, those new species were at the generic rank.”
As stated in the release, Till and Barfuss named the new genus Gregbrownia, in honor of Dr. Greg Brown for his modern plant systematic work involving the plant family Bromeliaceae.
“This is a tremendous, totally unexpected honor,” Brown says. “This recognition and honor become a permanent part of plant taxonomy and plant nomenclature.”
To read the original story from UW, click here.