Issue 27: April 2000



News from the Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research, Australian National Herbarium (CANB), for the information of CPBR and ANBG staff and volunteers.

CPBR News is produced monthly. If you wish to contribute, please email your suggestions to Suzie Dietrich, the coordinator.

Suzie Dietrich: ph (02) 6246 5533; fax (02) 6246 5249; email:

1. Herbarium and Services

1.1 C & D Review

Most of you will be aware that on 12-13 April we held a Review of Programs C and D, ie the herbarium and data management areas of Centre activities. The major objectives of the review were to assess progress made in these programs over the past 3 years, to provide opportunities for staff of the Centre to view demonstrations of some of the recently developed applications for projects such as APNI and ANHSIR, and to plan and prioritise for the future.

Many staff of the Centre and the ANBG attended the review, including those from Programs A and B- the systematics and conservation biology research programs. This was extremely useful since part of the process was to gain feedback and information from the users.

We invited an external reviewer to join a panel of others representing various elements of the Centre, Ken Hill from Sydney Herbarium provided some guidance from one of our main collaborating institutions. David Jones (systematics) and Richard Groves (conservation biology - weeds), as well as Ben Wallace (ANBG), made up the review panel of four.

The review panel are preparing a report about the two programs, and since that is not due to be with us until next week, I will not make any specific comments until we hear from the reviewers.

Overall, I think the review was a very useful exercise for the Centre and for the staff involved. Many staff learnt about new software applications and were able to have input into further development and suggestions for future directions. The very process of the review greatly increased awareness of the activities and responsibilities of the staff involved in the herbarium and data programs.

I would like to thank both Jim Croft and Bob Makinson for the efforts that went into presenting all the information and the open discussion. Also, thanks to all the other staff of those programs who participated and for the cooperative attitude of other members of the Centre and the ANBG for their input.

[Judy West]

1.2 Retirement of Heinar Streimann

After over three decades of work in Botany in Papua New Guinea, the Australian National Botanic Gardens and the Australian National Herbarium, Heinar Streimann has elected to retire, and his last day in the Cryptogam Herbarium was the 28th of April. Heinar asked that no fuss be made over his departure and his preference was to go quietly, without ceremony, and we have respected this wish, leaving him to talk with his colleagues and friends individually.

Heinar leaves a substantial monument to cryptogamic botany in his wake, one that he and the Gardens and Centre can be justifiably proud of. He was responsible for building the largest cryptogam collection in the southern hemisphere from a modest collection of 14 packets through individual dedication, perseverance, tenacity, and long hours of work. Apart from personally collecting many tens of thousands of specimens and arranging the donation and exchange of many tens of thousands more, Heinar produced a catalogue of moss species for Australia with assistance from Judith Curnow, a number of contributions to the Flora of Australia and has just completed an illustrated manuscript of the mosses of Norfolk Island which will be published by ABRS this year.

Heinar will be spending the first 4-5 months of his retirement travelling through northern Europe, visiting moss colleagues and working on a number of continuing moss projects. After that he plans to return to Canberra, possibly to continue studies on the bryophyte collections he has pulled together. We will be redirecting his email so hopefully he will be able to keep in touch from time to time.

Following Heinar's departure, we intend to appoint another cryptogamist to maintain and work on the collection Heinar established. Over the next few months the Australian cryptogam community will be consulted for views on how this might be done to greatest effect.

[Jim Croft]

2. Research Groups

2.1 A Visit to Institutes of the Himalayan Region and Northern India

I recently returned from a fascinating trip to India from December 1999 to February 2000 which was organised utilising my long service and recreational leave and was partially funded by the centre. While the trip was family oriented, the opportunities and advantages of meeting with prominent scientists working in our field of research was too great to overlook. My main goal was to establish contact with Taxonomists/ Botanists from this region to discuss some of the problems in Orchidaceae and also to set up an exchange program so that we can obtain material of certain species required to complete aspects of our research into Australian Orchidaceae. In the short time devoted to achieving these aims, I visited some very interesting institutes.

G.P. Pant Institute of Himalayan Environment and Development, Almora

After 12 hours of non stop driving from Delhi I arrived at this institute, high up in the Himalayan region in a very remote area which now houses a world leading institute for mountain studies around the globe. This institute was established in 1988 as an autonomous Institute of the Ministry of Environment and Forests by the Government of India, and has emerged as a focal agency to advance scientific knowledge, to evolve integrated management strategies and to further conservation of natural resources and environmentaly sound development in the entire Indian Himalayan region. This institute is building a fine reputation for its research in sustainable mountain ecology, agriculture and medicinal plants. I had a very profitable time with Dr L.M.S Palni, Director of the institute and Dr Tiwari (Reader at Kumoun Uni. Nainital) who happened to be visiting the institute. We all had lengthy discussions with a view to exchanging information on orchids of the foothills of the Himalayan region. They are very keen to have collaborative work with CPBR. They were aware of Mark Clements's work on symbiotic germination of orchids and showed a keen interest in obtaining mycorrhizal fungi and orchid seeds. I presented them with various publications of CPBR together with recent publications of the orchid research group. I was fortunate enough to be able to collect leaf material of five species of orchids from this region for DNA analysis. Dr Palni presented me with three books (a) Research for mountain Development: some initiatives and accomplishments (b) Biosphere Reserves and Management in India and (c) Medicinal plants of Indian Himalaya, along with other in-house publications, which may be of interest to readers of this newsletter.

Botany Department, Punjab University, Chandigarh

(6 hour trip from Delhi by car). I met Dr. S.P. Vij, Professor of Botany and Editor of the Orchid Society of India Journal, and discussed the possibility of collaborative work, specifically the setting up of an orchid exchange program including material for tissue culture. I also visited an Orchid glasshouse and had the privilege of having a close look at some of the orchids of the Indian Sub-continent as well as the cytogenetic investigations in the lab. I was able to collect leaf material from twenty seven species of orchids and seven species of Hibiscus which should be useful for Bernard. I was part a round table discussions with staff and Ph.D students regarding the nature of research carried out at the respective institutes. A special request for information was made regarding the method of orchid seed germination with mycorrhizal fungi which Mark Clements has pioneered and the published work on the role of allozymes in differentiating various orchid taxa and inter-specific hybrids. From our perspective it was very valuable to gain information on synthetic seeds - encapsulated protocorms which preserve the viability of the protocorm and which also allow for easy international transportation. Along with the usual hospitality I received a book titled 'Plant genetic Diversity: Evaluation and Conservation' together with other in-house publications e.g. ‘Orchids of India’ and list of plants growing at the Botanical Gardens. Anyone wishing to read these are most welcome.

Biotechnology Centre, Dept. of Botany and Dept. of Genetics of Punjab Agricultural University

(6 hr trip from Delhi by car). I met with Dr. K.S. Aulakh, Director of Research, who visited CPBR in 1998 and discussed numerous issues such as setting up an exchange program of certain plant taxa, collaboration with CPBR and the exchange of scientific information. Dr Aulakh introduced me to Drs S.S. Sahni (geneticist) and Harinder Kaur (Botanist) who are using the similar techniques of isozyme analysis to those used here at CPBR. Discussion centred around the various objectives for using isozyme and DNA technology. They were very keen to know the various strategies which CPBR is following for protecting rare and endangered flora from becoming extinct. Dr Kaur assisted me in collecting three species of Hibiscus.

I feel the trip was extremely valuable in developing personal links with researchers in the field which hopefully will develop into meaningful exchange programs and collaborative research projects in the near future. This short visit resulted in the collection of leaves of 27 orchids and 6 Hibiscus species for DNA analysis, and the rare opportunity to raise the international profile of CPBR and its commitment to conservation and Biodiversity while visiting the Indian sub-continent.

[Ish Sharma]

3. Information Technology and Data Management

3.1 WWW Site

The URL for the Centre can be found at:

Please check regularly for new items of interest re Centre staff and activities.

4. Education and Communication

5. General Centre Matters

5.1 Agreement

The Centre Agreement has finally been approved by both Ministers Hill and Minchin and has been signed by Peter Cochrane (Director National Parks, Environment Australia) and Colin Adams (acting CEO, CSIRO). The Agreement is for a ten year period from 1 January 2000 to 31 December 2009. For those of you burning to consume its page detail there are a couple of copies in the seminar room of the Centre.

[Judy West]

6. Other News

6.1 2000 Annual Meeting of Genetics Society of Australia

The 2000 annual meeting of the Genetics Society of Australia is on in Canberra from 3-7 July co-hosted by the ANU and the CSIRO. Morning sessions will be at ANU Copeland lecture theatre, afternoons at Discovery (Plant Industry). Symposia include: (i) Molecular phylogenetics (ii)Molecular genetics in plant and animal breeding and (iii) Gene mapping.

Deadline for poster and paper abstracts is 31 May. Full details and online registration are available at:

[Andrew Young]


  1. Diary of Events/Activities




Details (relate to projects)

8 April – 17 July

Overseas travel to Morocco, Italy, Malaysia and Germany

Tony Brown

IPGRI workshop in Morocco; working as HRF at IPGRI in Italy; international conference on genetic resources in Malaysia; research study on Brassicaceae in Germany.

25-26 May

CSIRO Biodiversity Sector Advisory Committee

Judy West and Jeremy Burdon


4-9 June

Overseas travel to the Netherlands

Rogier de Kok

Rogier will give a research talk at the Biogeography of Southeast Asia Conference in the Netherlands.

5-6 June

BDAC & World Environment Day, Adelaide

Judy West


5 June – 15 June

Overseas travel to the USA

Andrew Young

Andrew will give a research seminar at UC Davis, California and a paper at the annual meeting of the Society for Conservation Biology, Missoula, Montana.

15 June – 16 July

Overseas travel to Kew, UK and Washington DC, USA

Judy West

Judy will attend a management and future planning meeting for IPNI at Kew and will lead the Australian team for automated identification at a workshop in Washington DC re US/Australia Bioinformatics Interactions. Between the two meetings Judy will work at Kew on Portulaca and Pultenaea research projects.

15 July – 19 Aug

Overseas travel to France and USA

Randy Bayer

Randy will visit Rennes, France in connection with his lab work on the genome evolution project as well as to collect Spartina anglica. Randy will then attend the Botany 2000 Conference in Portland, USA, to present the results of his findings concerning phylogenetic relationships of Australian Asteraceae.

July 2000 –
Jun 2001

Visiting Scientist

Professor Brenda Wingfield

Univ. of Pretoria, South Africa. Expert in application of molecular techniques to fungal systematics. Will spend one-year sabbatical at the Centre working with Jeremy Burdon on systematics of the Uredinales (rust fungi).

1-3 Aug

Biodiversity Sector Scientist Meeting

Judy West and Jeremy Burdon

Scientific meeting across the Biodiversity Sector to develop linkages, look at future directions and develop flagship projects.

9-10 Aug

ABRS Advisory Committee

Judy West


21-25 Aug

Australian Research Council

Jeremy Burdon


23 Aug

Centre Board meeting


27 Aug – 14 Sept

Overseas travel to UK and Sweden

Jeremy Burdon

Jeremy will attend the British Ecological Society Special Symposium meeting (University of London) on Ecological genetics and chair the session on metapopulation scale interactions. Jeremy will also visit Professor Lars Ericson’s Lab at the University of Umea, Sweden to continue ongoing research collaboration in host-pathogen evolution in metapopulation frameworks.

6, 13, 20, 27 Sept

Biodiversity Seminars - Discovery

Judy West

Continuing with the successful Biodiversity Big Picture Seminar Series which the Centre presented last year to celebrate Biodiversity Month. The seminar series will be held on four consecutive Wednesdays at the Discovery Centre.