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Issue 45 - June 2002

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 Val Oliver, the coordinator.

Val Oliver: ph (02) 6246 5533; fax (02) 6246 5249; email:

1. Herbarium

Grass is greener on the other side

The Centre farewelled Frank Zich on 3 July who is taking up a new position at the Australian National Botanic Gardens. Frank’s involvement with the Centre has been considerable. He commenced in January 1990 working on the grass Australopyrum project with Judy West and was Loans Officer from 1990-1995. During this time Frank provided valuable assistance to many staff on projects operating in the Centre and the Gardens. In May 1995 he joined the Australian Volunteer International program and worked in Bogor and Bali Botanic Gardens and the Indonesian Network for Plant Conservation for four (4) years. Frank joined the Herbarium of the NT and Darwin Botanic Gardens in March 1999 before returning to Canberra and CSIRO and the ANH. For the past two years he has been working on the plant name index APNI and the international plant name index IPNI as well as preparing displays in the herbarium and conducting tours and supervising volunteers.

[Val Oliver]


2. Research Groups

Trip to Kew

In June 2002, I visited the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew and selected a loan of about 200 specimens from the Labiatae genus Vitex. In addition, I met my former student Caroline Servaes, who for 6 months in 2001 worked on the taxonomy of two complex species of Pultenaea. She is doing well and is graduating from Wagening University this summer. Futhermore, I gave a talk about Prostanthera and have set up two joint projects with colleagues at Kew.

[Rogier de Kok]



Visit to the USA

I recently returned from a three week trip to the USA. Most of my time was spent in the southern portion of Illinois, at the university town of Carbondale. As the name suggests, the town was once associated with coal mining. At this time of the year the mid-west is quite hot and very humid, with plants and insects making the most of the warmer temperatures. I also spent a few days in St. Louis, Missouri, where I was able to visit the Missouri Botanical Gardens and the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center.

The main goal of my visit was to complete a small project on one particular aspect of a larger project concerning the hornworts. Dr Karen Renzaglia and Dr Joel Duff, two colleagues in the US, who recently submitted an NSF research grant to undertake a collaborative research project to determine the biodiversity, phylogeny and biogeography of the hornworts. The project that I was undertaking related to the spores, which have been important in placing taxa into genera and separating species within genera, within the group. To date very little has been done on the development or ultrastructure of the spore wall and relating this to the external ornamentation of the spores. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) of the external ornamentation of the spores was combined with both light and transmission electron microscopy (TEM) of the internal structure of the spores. We had access to laboratory facilities within the Plant Biology Dept. and SEM and TEM facilities at the Integrated Microscopy and Graphics Expertise (IMAGE) Center, both at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, Illinois.

While most of my research time was spent indoors, we did find some time to collect hornworts locally, which also included collecting a number of ticks and miscellaneous insect bites!

[Christine Cargill]


3. Education and Communication

Cotton Identification guide

We were approached by Cotton Seed Distributors to put together a Cotton Identification guide to assist field monitors charged with determining whether any native Gossypium species were growing near genetically modified cotton fields.

With the assistance of Lyn Craven and Curt Brubaker for the technical information, we compiled a 20 page colour manual of the native Gossypium species of the C- and G-genomes occurring in Queensland and New South Wales. The manual covers the 5 Hibiscoidea and Sturtia species (G. australe, G. bickii, G. nelsonii, G. robinsonii, G. sturtianum). A short introduction summarizes the taxonomy and distribution (in two colour maps) of the species. This is followed by a key and descriptions of each species. The descriptions and key are illustrated with colour images from the glasshouse, herbarium and field. A copy has been placed in the Centre's library.

[Kirsten Cowley and Siobhan Duffy]



The Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research and the Australian National Herbarium present "Biodiversity Bites" a series of public lectures on their biodiversity research.

Over four months, some of our scientists will talk about the results and impacts of their research and associated activities in a stimulating fashion to get you thinking about biodiversity and how it affects our environment and our lives.

If you have an interest in biodiversity, want to learn more about it or are keen to meet some of the most biodiverse scientists around then don’t miss out on "Biodiversity Bites"!

6 pm, first Wednesday of each month

Dates: 7 August, 4 September, 2 October, 6 November
Time: 6.00 - 7.00 pm (seating available from 5.00 pm)
Location: CSIRO Discovery Lecture Theatre
Black Mountain Laboratories
Cnr Clunies Ross St and Barry Drive, Canberra

Drinks: At conclusion of lecture by gold coin donation.

7 August: What’s Its Name?
Why plants change their name - blame the botanists!

The reasons for plant name changes - based on recent classifications and historical research on eucalypts, orchids, acacias, paper daisies and the Sturt desert pea.

4 September: Botanical Treasures
Unlocking the many values of Australian plants.

The changing role of herbaria from the hand lens to modern plant discovery, DNA analysis and information technology.

2 October: Plant Invaders
It’s not only the exotics that are escaping - our crops are getting away and even some of our natives are on the move.

Research and issues associated with Bitou Bush, Bridal Creeper, native weeds, pasture plants and commercial crops such as Pinus radiata.

6 November: Bushland on Life Support
Remnant vegetation and the quality of life.

Managing remnant vegetation for conservation and sustainable production - what tradeoffs are acceptable?

Registration is not required. Further information: Val Oliver

Ph: 02 62465533




4. Information Technology and Data Management

Website for Summer Scholarship info:


5. General Centre Matters

Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE) visit

On June 28 ten members of the ATSE visited the Centre and herbarium. The interests and expertise of the group ranged from biotechnology to computer sciences, industrial physics, analytical chemistry, to civil and chemical engineering and all with a general interest in science. They were particularly interested in the herbarium and some of the applications of both the data associated with the collection and the knowledge emanating from the collection. Mapping favourite species via the Australia’s Virtual Herbarium website and testing EUCLID with a real specimen for identification were highlights for the group. As a whole the ATSE members seemed to be very impressed with what we are doing and were encouraging for our future plans.

[Judy West]