Monthly Archives: December 2016

New Species: December 21 to 31

by Piter Kehoma Boll

Here is a list of species described from December 21 to December 30. It certainly does not include all described species. Most information comes from the journals Mycokeys, Phytokeys, Zookeys, Phytotaxa, Zootaxa, International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology, and Systematic and Applied Microbiology, as well as journals restricted to certain taxa.

tosanoides_obama

Tosanoides obama is a new Hawaiian species of fish named after the president of the USA, Barack Obama.

Bacteria

SARs

Plants

Fungi

Sponges

Flatworms

Arachnids

Myriapods

Crustaceans

Insects

Ray-finned fishes

Reptiles

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Friday Fellow: Peacock Spikemoss

by Piter Kehoma Boll

This is the last Friday Fellow of the year and I decided to choose a beautiful and little known plant, the peacock spikemoss, more commonly known as Willdenow’s spikemoss or peacock fern, and scientifically known as Selaginella willdenowii.

The most impressive feature of this species is the blue iridescence of its leaves, which can be quite intense depending on the light reflecting on them. This blue color is caused by a very thin layer of cells in the upper cuticle of the leaves that produces a thin-film interference, a phenomemon such as the one that makes a soap bubble look colorful.

selaginella_willdenowii

Look how blue it can get! Amazing, huh? Photo by Bernard Dupont.*

The peacock spikemoss is native from Southeast Asia, more precisely from the region around Singapore, and is adapted to areas of extreme shade. The blue iridescence is therefore an adaptation to reflect the strong sunlight that may reach the plant through openings in the canopy.

Some Asian cultures use the peacock spikemoss in traditional medicine and studies have shown that the plant has important antioxidant properties. So why not to try an iridescent blue tea?

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References:

Chai, Tsun-Thai, & Wong, Fai-Chu (2012). Antioxidant properties of aqueous extracts of Selaginella willdenowii Journal of Medicinal Plants Research, 6 (7) DOI: 10.5897/JMPR11.1378

EOL – Encyclopedia of Life. Willdenow’s Spikemoss. Available at: <http://eol.org/pages/595324/overview&gt;. Access on December 28, 2016.

Wikipedia. Selaginella willdenowii. Available at: <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Selaginella_willdenowii&gt;. Access on December 28. 2016.

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Friday Fellow: Christmas Wreath Lichen

ResearchBlogging.orgby Piter Kehoma Boll

Celebrating Christmas (or whatever you call this time of the year), today’s Friday Fellow is another lichen. And the reason I chose it is because it is known as Christmas wreath lichen due to its red and green color.

Cryptothecia rubrocinta growing on Patagonula americana in Argentina. Photo by Wikimedia user Millifolium.*

Cryptothecia rubrocicnta growing on Patagonula americana in Argentina. Photo by Wikimedia user Millifolium.*

Scientifically known as Cryptothecia rubrocincta, the Christmas wreath lichen is found throughout the Americas, from the United States to Argentina, and usually grows on shady tree trunks. In mature specimens, three different color zones can be seen, a central grayish-green zone, an intermediate white zone, and an external red rim. The central zone is usually covered by red nodules which in some cases may hinder the visibility of the grayish-green color.

The red color is caused by a combination of a quinone, called cheidectonic acid, and beta-carotene, which together protect the organism from radiation and provides DNA repair.

Apparently, this lichen only reproduces asexually, thus not forming any sexual structures. For that reason, it was thought for some time that it could be a basidiomycete fungus, although most lichens are formed by ascomycete fungi. Nowadays, however, we know that it is actually an ascomycete. DNA extraction is difficult, though, because several microscopic fungi live inside the lichen, thus somewhat making it a very complex organism formed by several interconnected species.

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References:

Elfie Stocker-Wörgötter (2010). Stress and Developmental Strategies in Lichens Symbioses and Stress, 525-546 DOI: 10.1007/978-90-481-9449-0_27

Wikipedia. Cryptothecia rubrocincta. Available at <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cryptothecia_rubrocincta&gt;. Access on December 16, 2016.

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New Species: December 11 to 20

by Piter Kehoma Boll

Here is a list of species described from December 11 to December 20. It certainly does not include all described species. Most information comes from the journals Mycokeys, Phytokeys, Zookeys, Phytotaxa, Zootaxa, International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology, and Systematic and Applied Microbiology, as well as journals restricted to certain taxa.

gymnopus-sequoiae

Gymnopus sequoiae is a new mushroom species described in the past 10 days.

Archaeans

Bacteria

SARs

Plants

Fungi

Sponges

Mollusks

Annelids

Nematodes

Arachnids

Crustaceans

Insects

Cartilaginous fishes

Ray-finned fishes

Lissamphibians

Reptiles

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Friday Fellow: Common Stonewort

ResearchBlogging.orgby Piter Kehoma Boll

It’s always hard to introduce a less charismatic species here. Not because they are less interesting to me, but because I cannot find good information available. But I try to do my best to show all aspects of our amazing biodiversity.

Today I’m introducing another alga, one of the most complex ones, the common stonewort, scientifically known as Chara vulgaris.

...armleuchteralgen

A “field” of common stoneworts in a pond. Photo by Markus Nolf.*

Found worldwide in freshwater environments, especially marshes and swamps, the common stonewort may actually be a complex of species. Its name “stonewort” comes from the fact that the plant may become encrusted in calcium carbonate, giving it a stony appearance. Growing up to 120 cm in length/height and having a central articulated stalk with several branches coming out from each node, it may look similar to a horsetail, but its structure is much simpler.

If you look closer, you’ll see that the stalk is formed by a simple mass of chained cells, but very big ones. Actually, the cells of species in the genus Chara are among the largest known plant cells. And having such large cells, stoneworts have become experts in cytoplasmic streaming, a phenomenon by which organelles and fluids flow throughout the cytoplasm guided by an interaction of myosin molecules that slide along actin molecules. And in case you didn’t know, myosin and actin are also the molecules responsible for muscular contractions in animals.

chara_vulgaris

A closer look at a stalk of the common stonewort. Photo by Kristian Peters.*

The common stonewort is very common in rice fields and serves as a substrate for nitrogen-fixing bacteria. Thus, although usually considered a weed in the fields, the presence of the common stonewort may actually help to increase the soil fertility in rice fields.

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References:

Ariosa, Y., Quesada, A., Aburto, J., Carrasco, D., Carreres, R., Leganes, F., & Fernandez Valiente, E. (2004). Epiphytic Cyanobacteria on Chara vulgaris Are the Main Contributors to N2 Fixation in Rice Fields Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 70 (9), 5391-5397 DOI: 10.1128/AEM.70.9.5391-5397.2004

Wikipedia. Charales. Available at <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charales&gt;. Access on December 15, 2016.

Wikipedia. Cytoplasmic streaming. Available at < https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cytoplasmic_streaming>. Access on December 15, 2016.

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The history of Systematics: Plants in Systema Naturae, 1758 (Part 5)

by Piter Kehoma Boll

After taking four posts (you can read them here: 1, 2, 3, 4) to present all regular hermaphroditic flowers in Linnaeus’ system, it’s time to move to irregular hermaphroditic flowers (which will continue in post 6). Here I’ll present you two classes characterized by having stamens of two different sizes.

14. Didynamia (“two forces”)

“Four husbands, two of them longer and two of them shorter”, i.e., two longer stamens and two shorter stamens in a hermaphroditic flower.

14.1 Didynamia Gymnospermia (“two forces, naked seeds”), two longer stamens (and two shorter ones) and exposed seeds without a surrounding fruit: Ajuga (bugleweeds), Teucrium (germanders), Satureja (savories), Thymbra (Mediterranean thymes), Hyssopus (hyssops), Nepeta (catnips), Lavandula (lavenders), Betonica (betonies), Sideritis (ironworts), Mentha (mints), Glechoma (ground ivies), Lamium (dead nettles), Orvala (more dead nettles), Galeopsis (hempnettles), Stachys (woundworts), Ballota (horehounds), Marrubium (more horehounds), Leonurus (lion’s tails), Phlomis (Jerusalem sage), Moluccella (bells-of-Ireland), Clinopodium (wild basils), Thymus (thymes), Origanum (oreganos), Melissa (balms), Dracocephalum (dragonheads), Horminum (dragonmouth), Melittis (bastard balm), Ocimum (basils), Trichostema (bluecurls), Scutellaria (skullcaps), Prunella (self-heals), Prasium (white hedge-nettle), Phryma (lopseed).

1758linnaeus_didynamia_gymnospermia

These 32 species were classified by Linnaeus as Didynamia Gymnospermia (from left to right, top to bottom): common bugleweed (Ajuga reptans), wall germander (Teucrium chamaedrys), winter savory (Satureja montana), spicate Mediterranean thyme (Thymbra spicata), herb hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis), true catnip (Nepeta cataria), French lavender (Lavandula stoechas), common betony (Betonica officinalis, now Stachys officinalis), Syrian ironwort (Sideritis syriaca), spear mint (Mentha spicata), common ground-ivy (Glechoma hederacea), white dead-nettle (Lamium album), common hempnettle (Galeopsis tetrahit), hedge woundwort (Stachys sylvatica), black horehound (Ballota nigra), common horehound (Marrubium vulgare), motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca), common Jerusalem sage (Phlomis fruticosa), common-bells-of-Ireland (Moluccella laevis), common wild-basil (Clinopodium vulgare), common thyme (Thymus vulgaris), common oregano (Origanum vulgare), lemon balm (Melissa officinalis), Moldavian dragonhead (Dracocephalum moldavica), dragonmouth (Horminum pyrenaicum), bastard balm (Melittis melissophyllum), sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum), forked blue curls (Trichostema dichotomum), blue skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora), common self-heal (Prunella vulgaris), white hedge-nettle (Prasium majus), lopseed (Phryma leptostachya). Credits to H. Zell (bugleweed, hyssop, betony, mint, dead nettle), Bernd Haynold (germander, dragonmouth), Agnieszka Kwiecień (savory), Gideon Pisanty (Mediterranean thyme, lemon balm), Hans Hillewaert (lavender), C T Johansson (ironwort), Kristian Peters (ground ivy), Ivar Leidus (woundwort, self-heal), Olivier Pichard (black horehound), Eugene Zelenko (common horehound), Karel Jakubec (motherwort), Peter A. Mansfeld (Jerusalem sage), Muriel Bendel (wild basil), Henry Brisse (thyme), Frank Vicentz (oregano), Karen Hine (dragonhead), Jacopo Werther (blue curls), Rolf Engstrand (skullcap), Zeynel Cebeci (white hedge-nettle), and Wikimedia users KENPEI (catnip), BerndH (hempnettle, bastard balm), HelloMojo (bells-of-Ireland), Wildfeuer (basil) and Dalgial (lopseed).

14.2 Didynamia Angiospermia (“two forces, enclosed seeds”), two longer stamens (and two shorter ones) and seeds enclosed in a fruit: Bartsia (velvetbells), Rhinanthus (rattles), Euphrasia (eyebrights), Melampyrum (cow wheats), Lathraea (toothworts), Schwalbea (chaffseed), Tozzia (tozzias), Pedicularis (louseworts), Gerardia (gerardias), Chelone (turtleheads), Gesneria (gesnerias), Antirrhinum (snapdragons), Cymbaria (cymbarias), Craniolaria (craniolarias), Martynia (cat’s claw), Torenia (wishbone flowers), Besleria (beslerias), Scrophularia (figworts), Celsia (celsia), Digitalis (foxgloves), Bignonia (crossvines), Citharexylum (fiddlewoods), Halleria (tree fuchsia), Crescentia (calabash tree), Gmelina (gmelinas), Petrea (sandpaper vines), Lantana (lantanas), Cornutia (cornutias), Loeselia (loeselias), Capraria (goatweeds), Selago (selages), Hebenstretia (hebenstretias), Erinus (fairy foxgloves), Buchnera (buchneras), Browallia (browallias), Linnaea (twinflower), Sibthorpia (sibthorpia), Limosella (mudworts), Stemodia (twintips), Aeginetia (forest ghost flower), Obolaria (obolarias), Orobanche (broomrapes), Dodartia (dodartias), Lippia (lippias), Sesamum (sesames), Mimulus (monkeyflowers), Ruellia (ruellias), Barleria (Philippine violets), Duranta (dewdrops), Ovieda (ovieda), Ellisia (ellisia), Volkameria (glory bowers), Clerodendrum (more glory bowers), Vitex (chastetree), Bontia (wild olive), Columnea (flying goldfish plants), Acanthus (bear’s breeches), Pedalium (pedalium), Melianthus (honeyflowers).

1758linnaeus_didynamia_angiospermia

The order Didynamia Angiospermia included these plants (from left to right, top to bottom): common velvetbells (Bartsia alpina), field cow-wheat (Melampyrum arvense), common toothwort (Lathraea squamaria), American chaffseed (Schwalbea americana), common lousewort (Pedicularis sylvatica), white turtlehead (Chelone glabra), garden snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus), cat’s claw (Martynia annua), common figwort (Scrophularia nodosa), common foxglove (Digitalis purpurea), common crossvine (Bignonia capreolata), tree fuchsia (Halleria lucida), Calabash tree (Crescentia cujete), West Indian lantana (Lantana camara), common goatweed (Capraria biflora), Alpine balsam (Erinus alpinus), twinflower (Linnaea borealis), water mudwort (Limosella aquática), seaside twintip (Stemodia marítima), forest ghost flower (Aeginetia indica), branched broomrape (Orobanche ramosa), common sesame (Sesamum indicum), square-stemmed monkeyflower (Mimulus ringens), minnieroot (Ruellia tuberosa), crested Philippine violet (Barleria cristata), golden dewdrop (Duranta erecta), common glory bower (Volkameria inermis), Hill glory bower (Clerodendrum infortunatum), common chastetree (Vitex agnus-castus), wild olive (Bontia daphnoides), common bear’s breeches (Acanthus mollis), pedalium (Pedalium murex), giant honeyflower (Melianthus major). Credits to Jörg Hempel (velvetbells, toothwort), Hans Hillewaert (cow wheat), H. Zell (turtlehead, chastetree), Michael Apel (snapdragon), Jean François Gaffard (figwort), Melissa McMasters (crossvine), Stan Shebs (tree fuchsia, honeyflower), Franz Xaver (lantana, sesame, bear’s breeches), Scott Zona (goatweed), François Van Der Biest (Apline balsam), Paul Chapman (twinflower), Christian Fischer (mudwort), Alex Popovkin (twintip), C T Johansson (forest ghost flower), Javier Martin (broomrape), Jason Hollinger (monkeyflower), Varun Pabrai (minnieroot), Forest & Kim Starr (common glory bower), D. Eickhoff (wild olive), Marco Schmidt (pedalium), and Wikimedia users Orchi (lousewort), Vinayaraj (cat’s claw, hill glory bower), Yann (foxglove), Jamesbamba (calabash tree), Vengolis (Philippine violet) and Mokkie (dewdrop).

15. Tetradynamia (“four forces”)

“Six husbands, four of them longer in a hermaphrodite flower”, i.e., four longer stamens and two shorter stamens in a hermaphroditic flower.

15.1 Tetradynamia Siliculosae (“four forces, siliculose”), four longer stamens (and two shorter ones) and seeds in a short pod (silicle): Myagrum (myagers), Vella (vellas), Anastatica (rose of Jericho), Subularia (awlworts), Draba (whitlow grasses), Lepidium (peppercresses), Thlaspi (pennycresses), Cochlearia (spoonworts), Iberis (candytufts), Alyssum (alyssums), Clypeola (more alyssums), Biscutella (biscutellas), Lunaria (honesties).

1758linnaeus_tetradynamia_siliculosae

Linnaeus put in the order Tetradynamia Siliculosae, among others, the following plants (from left to right, top to bottom): rose of Jericho (Anastatica hierochuntica), early whitlow-grass (Draba verna), garden cress (Lepidium sativum), field pennycress (Thlaspi arvense), common spoonwort (Cochlearia officinalis), evergreen candytuft (Iberis sempervirens), spiny madwort (Alyssum spinosum), sweet alyssum (Clypeola maritima, now Lobularia maritima), common honesty (Lunaria annua). Credits to Michael H. Lemmer (whitlow grass), Krish Dulal (garden cress), Karel Jakubec (spoonwort), Kurt Stüber (madwort), André Karwath (honesty) and Wikimedia users Phil41 (rose of Jericho), Bff (pennycress), Bouba (candytuft) and Hectonichus (sweet alyssum).

 15.2 Tetradynamia Siliquosae (“four forces, siliquose”), four longer stamens (and two shorter ones) and seeds in a long pod (silique): Dentaria (bittercresses), Cardamine (more bittercresses), Sisymbrium (hedge mustards), Erysimum (wallflowers), Cheiranthus (more wallflowers), Hesperis (dame’s rockets), Arabis (rockcresses), Turritis (towercresses), Brassica (cabbages, mustards and allies), Sinapis (some mustards), Raphanus (radishes), Bunias (warty cabbages), Isatis (woads), Crambe (seakales), Cleome (spiderflowers).

1758linnaeus_tetradynamia_siliquosae

The order Tetradynamia Siliquosa included (from left to right, top to bottom): narrowleaf bittercress (Cardamine impatiens), common hedge-mustard (Sisymbrium officinale), common dame’s rocket (Hesperis matronalis), Alpine rockcress (Arabis alpina), common towercress (Turritis glabra), cabbage (Brassica oleracea), wild mustard (Sinapis arvensis), cultivated radish (Raphanus sativus), common woad (Isatis tinctoria), common seakale (Crambe maritima), African spiderflower (Cleome gynandra). Credits to Meneerke Bloem (bittercress), James K. Lindsey (hedge mustard), Jason Pratt (dame’s rocket), Jerzy Opiała (rockcress), Olivier Pichard (wild mustard), Curtis Clark (radish), Kurt Stüber (woad), Anne Burgess (seakale), Ton Rulkens (spiderflower) and Wikimedia users Rigel7 (towercress) and Griensteidl (cabbage).

As you can notice, these classes include many culinary plants. And finally we are getting close to the end of flowering plants, but there are still quite a lot to show.

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References:

Linnaeus, C. 1758. Systema Naturae per Regna Tria Naturae…

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New Species: December 1 to 10

by Piter Kehoma Boll

Here is a list of species described from December 1 to December 10. It certainly does not include all described species. Most information comes from the journals Mycokeys, Phytokeys, Zookeys, Phytotaxa, Zootaxa, International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology, and Systematic and Applied Microbiology, as well as journals restricted to certain taxa.

brunfelsia_cabiesesiana

Brunfelsia cabiesesiana is a new flowering plant from Peru described in the past 10 days.

SARs

Plants

Fungi

Mollusks

Nematodes

Arachnids

Crustaceans

Hexapods

Cartilaginous fishes

Ray-finned fishes

Reptiles

Mammals

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