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- CPBR News 13-

News from the Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research and
Australian National Herbarium (CANB)

For the information of CPBR and ANBG staff and volunteers

February, 1999

1. Herbarium and Services

1.1 1999 Student Botanical Internship Program

The 1999 Internship Program has now officially finished, with all 19 Interns graduating at a special ceremony held at the ANBG on Friday 26th February. This year's program has been a great success, due in no small part to a particularly dedicated and conscientious group of Interns. An indication of the success of the 1999 Program is the l-o-n-g list of completed jobs on the whiteboard in the tea-room, a full report of which will be available at a later date. We are most grateful to all the staff who assisted with the Program this year, and to Centre staff in general for their tolerance towards our "charges" during the past two months. Only 10 months to go before we do it all again!

[Brendan Lepschi and Bob Makinson]

1.2 Herbarium Volunteers

Most of our Volunteers are back now after the Christmas / Summer break and proving to be their usual productive selves. The following people have joined the Herbarium Volunteer Program since November.

    Bruce Clark
    Jacqueline Cole
    Michael Giannasca
    Nicholas Hulskamp
    Susan Innes
    Robert Jack
    Mollie Lau
    David Mellowship
    Michelle Patrick
    Maxine Powell
    Elizabeth Richardson
    Helene Shannos
    Cathy Zdanowicz


[Faye Davies]

2. Research Groups

2.1 Summer Studentship Program

The summer studentship program for 1998-99 has now ended. This was the Centre's most successful to date with a total of seven 2nd - 3rd year undergraduates spending 12 weeks working in the Centre. Funding for the studentships was derived from a variety of sources with the CPBR funding three, while Parks Victoria, Environment ACT, CRC-Weed Management Systems and the CRC for Sustainable Cotton Production, each funded one studentship.

The projects pursued by the students ranged across most of the research activities of the Centre including systematics and evolution, conservation genetics, rhizobial studies, weed biology and the effects of fire.

On 11 February, six of the students gave short 15-20 minute presentations of their work to staff of the Centre. The standard of presentations was high and reflected the significant quality and quantity of work achieved.

The Centre will be offering the program again in the coming summer period.

[Jeremy Burdon]

2.2 Program Review

The Annual Program Review will be held over a two day period, 3-4 March. Program A will be reviewed on Wednesday, 3 March and Program B on Thursday, 4 March.

2.3 Demonstration of Interactive Identification Tools

On 2 March, three IT presentations will be held in the Map Room for all interested staff.

The Interactive Identifications Tools presented will be:

    9:30 - 10:30 EUCLID

    2:30 - 3:30 Australian Tropical Rain Forest Trees and Shrubs

    3:30 - 4:40 Interactive Identification Guide to the Families of Flowering Plants of Australia

All staff are welcome to attend.

2.4 Interactive Key to Angiosperm Families

Using LucIDT Professional for Windows as its platform, we have developed an interactive, multiple-entry (i.e. random-access) identification system for the 240 Angiosperm families recorded for Australia. As well as comprehensive character / state data, the key contains supplementary text including plain-English family descriptions and lists of genera, and illustrated by a range of family images (mostly colour photographs of live plants) together with line drawings illustrating the key's botanical terminology.

A collaborative project between ABRS and the CPBR, the key will provide a user-friendly electronic method of accurately identifying an Australian flowering plant, native or naturalised, to a family. The majority of the character data has been coded for us by Australian (and in a few cases overseas) specialists in particular families, and so contains detailed information on Australian taxa, often intrinsically to species level.

A working version of the key is currently being processed to CD-ROM, and it is hoped commercial copies of the disc will be on sale to the public within a few months.

[Laurie Adams and Kevin Thiele]

3. Information Technology and Data Management

3.1 WWW Site

The URL for the Centre can be found at: http://www.anbg.gov/cpbr

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

4. Education and Communication

5. General Centre Matters

5.1 CPBR Seminar Series

The CPBR lunch time seminars are underway again. This year, seminars will be held on the first Thursday of each month, at 12.30 pm in the tea room. We already have a full list of exciting speakers, but welcome suggestions of additional presenters. Please remember to let Tony Willis know of any visiting colleagues that would be willing to give a "special" seminar. The schedule for the next 6 months is:

    March 4: Program U review. Seminar rescheduled for March 11.

    March 11: "Hybridisation and habitat selection in Australian alpine Ranunculus"; Tristan Armstrong, Division of Botany and Zoology, ANU.

    March 25 -- SPECIAL SEMINAR: "Low copy nuclear genes in Glycine and related legumes: perspectives on gene and plant evolution"; Prof. Jeff Doyle, Cornell University.

    April 1: "A pictorial tour of changes in the family Pittosporaceae"; Dr Lindy Cayzer, CPBR.

    May 6: "Integrating field and physiological studies to understand acid tolerance in Rhizobium leguminosarum bv trifolii"; Dr Elizabeth Watkin, CPBR.

    June 3: "Retrotransposon-related DNA sequences in the centromeres of grass chromosomes and their impact on grass evolution"; Dr Joe Miller, CPBR.

    July 1: "Species in the tail of rank-abundance curves"; Dr Brad Murray, CPBR (and remember to wish Brad a Happy Birthday on this day!).

    August 5: Scot Kelchner (title to be announced).

[Tony Willis]

6. Other News

6.1 Flora of Australia Volume 1

Flora of Australia Vol. 1 (2nd edn) should be published in March of this year. It has about 14 chapters covering a wide range of topics including:

    A History of Systematic Botany in Australia. This chapter includes notes on botanists, collectors, early voyagers etc.

    An Annotated Bibliography. Giving, in chronological order, the most significant floristic works that have been written for Australia and major regions within it. Brief notes accompany the entries. Several early general taxonomic works of relevance are also included, plus some recent major works peripheral to taxonomy (e.g. horticulture, endangered species, poisonous plants).

    Other major chapters deal with the environment: on evolution of the environment and on present environmental influences, present vegetation types and on the aquatic flora, on biogeography and on evolution (with fossil evidence).

    Other chapters cover uses of our flora, usage in art forms, and a chapter on reserves and conservation of the flora.

    A key to the families of flowering plants is a major part of the volume.

    There is a comprehensive glossary accompanied by illustrations.

In addition to 2nd addition of Vol. 1, an interactive identification guide to all families (naturalised and native in Australia) (CD-ROM) is nearing completion. This will be available on CD-Rom and will be called "The Families of Flowering Plants of Australia". It will have colour photos of nearly all families and a comprehensive set of line drawings to assist with identification and use of appropriate character states. Notes accompany each family entry.

[Helen Thompson]

6.2 Interactive Key to Australian Solanaceae

Volume 29 of the Flora of Australia covered the indigenous and naturalised members of the family Solanaceae, which includes important toxic plants, weeds and drug plants. This volume was published in 1982, and is now out of print, and, in many ways, out of date. In the intervening years, considerable advances have been made in our understanding of the nomenclature, distribution and ecology of this significant group of plants.

ABRS is undertaking the much-needed revision of the Solanaceae volume and reissue this in electronic form, primarily on the World Wide Web (WWW). We envisage a fully interactive and richly illustrated product that will serve as a model for many of our future activities in electronic publishing.

In order that this revision will be as visually attractive and scientifically comprehensive as possible. ABRS would be most grateful for a brief loan of any high quality colour transparences of species of Solanaceae (habit or close-up photos of native or naturalised species). We will scan all transparencies and return them as quickly as possible.

Please note that the WWW version of this interactive key will display colour illustrations at a comparatively low resolution.

[Pat McCarthy]

7. Diary of Events / Activities

3 - 5 Mar
Program U Review
Jeremy Burdon and all research staff
All research staff are required to attend the Review. All technical staff are encouraged to attend. To be held in the Seminar room.

16 Mar
EA Chief Science Adviser's Seminar
Judy West
Judy West has been invited by the Chief Science Adviser (Peter Bridgewater) to present a seminar on the Centre.

23 - 26 Mar
Visiting Scientist
Prof. Jeff Doyle
Professor Jeff Doyle (Cornell University, USA) will visit the Centre and present a seminar on 25 March. Professor Doyle has on ongoing project with Tony Brown on molecular systematics of Glycine.

9 Apr
Biodiversity SAC meeting
Judy West and Jeremy Burdon
Sector meeting with Advisory Committee planning for presentation to CSIRO Executive.

19-23 Apr
CHAH Technician's Workshop
Helen Hewson and Heinar Streimann
Technical workshop on Cryptogams to be run at the Centre on behalf of CHAH.

21 Apr-1 Jun
16th World Orchid Conference Vancouver
Mark Clements
Invited speaker at 16th World Orchid Conference Vancouver. Post conference tour of South America.

26-30 Apr
Overseas Visit to Nepal
Tony Brown
Attend participants meeting for IPGRI project on Biodiversity Conservation.

12 Jun - 12 Jul
Overseas Visit to UK and USA
Tony Willis
Tony will visit the University of Bristol, UK, to finalise the obligations of a research grant from the British Council and then attend the X International Symposium on Biological Control of Weeds in Bozeman, Montana, USA.

CPBR News is compiled by Suzie Dietrich (suzie.dietrich@pi.csiro.au),
Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research

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Placed here 15 November, 1999 by Andrew Lyne
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