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Manual de Plantas de Costa Rica

Main | Family List (MO) | Family List (INBio) | Cutting Edge
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The Cutting Edge

Volume XI, Number 2, April 2004

News and Notes |Recent Treatments | Leaps and Bounds | Germane Literature | Season's Pick | Annotate your copy

THE FINAL ELBOW. On 25 March, Daniel H. Janzen (PENN) presented the first in a series of conferences celebrating INBio's 15th anniversary. Ever on the cutting edge, Dan gave a very stimulating talk about the seemingly futuristic possibility of a hand-held, satellite-connected DNA sequencer ("barcoder") for sp. identification. Many of us have been contemplating the likes of this, as a theoretical possibility, ever since the advent of DNA sequencing-but never did we imagine it would happen in our lifetimes! At least for certain organisms (those of special importance to customs officials and medical doctors), something of the sort is bound to be in use within a very short time-three years, according to Dan. He has already tested the gene that seems to work for animals (see, e.g., http://www.barcodinglife.com/) by sending a bunch of butterfly (skipper) pieces, involving cryptic spp., to a lab and getting back essentially 100% correct IDs (i.e., the material separated into the same number of spp. that Dan recognizes). The next goal is to miniaturize and mobilize the technology, and to find a gene that works for plants. An ancillary goal, of course, is to generate a new round of excitement, funding and research possibilities in plant taxonomy. Discussions with John Kress and colleagues at US have led to a promise from them to search for said gene. Plant taxomomists often react negatively at first but, realizing the tremendous implications, have begun to think harder and more positively. A mid-summer meeting in Costa Rica is in the planning stage. A proposed goal of the early phase of this initiative is to create a DNA barcode library for an entire national flora (that of Costa Rica), taking into account and exploring the associated complications, conditionalities, variations, and protocols for making it functional for sp.-level identifications.

CHICO EL TROTAMUNDO. INB mainstay Francisco Morales attended an Apocynaceae meeting in Vienna during 31 January-16 February, and visited herbaria there. Just a month later (17-28 March) he was in Colombia, where he worked at COL (and various other herbaria in Bogotá) examining material for families he is preparing for the Manual, especially Apocynaceae, Cunoniaceae, and Proteaceae.

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