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Researchers document new species of African violet in Mizoram

By on May 25, 2021 0

Researchers at the Indian Institute of Education and Scientific Research (IISER) in Bhopal have documented a new species of plant belonging to the African violets family – a popular horticultural choice in herbaria and greenhouses around the world – in Mizoram .

The discovery was recently documented in the peer-reviewed journal Systematic Botany (published by the American Society for Plant Taxonomists), almost four years after the specimen was first observed in the field.

The researchers also documented the presence of the same species in adjacent Myanmar, and said it may also exist in parts of China.

The species belongs to the genus ‘Didymocarpus’, belonging to the Gesneriaceae plant family (more commonly known as African violets).

“Its members are spread from the Western Himalayas to Sumatra. Most of these species are narrow endemics and require specialized habitats to survive, thus acting as an indicator of pristine habitats. There are currently 106 known species of this genus, 26 of which are found in the northeastern states of India, ”the journal’s authors said in a statement on Monday.

The newly described species was named “Didymocarpus vickifunkiae” and named after the late Dr. Vicki Ann Funk, who was a noted botanist at the Smithsonian Institute in the United States.

“The species is currently only known from three places in Mizoram, and may be classified as endangered based on a standardized assessment designed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature,” said Dr Vinita Gowda, Associate Professor, Department of Biology. sciences, IISER.

“These results continue to highlight the taxonomic endemism that we observe in the flora of the northeast. Such endemism is usually observed in island habitats, where the species arrives, and then the subsequent evolutionary process becomes much more localized. This is something we’ve seen in the northeastern states, but we’re not sure exactly why, as the tectonic histories in India are so complex, ”Gowda added.

These results, which are based on in situ and ex situ studies (including molecular phylogenetic analyzes with similar African violet species from other seagrass beds around the world), are part of a larger study currently being undertaken by Gowda. and his doctoral students, to thoroughly document the genus Didymocarpus in India. This will help researchers better understand the evolutionary traits of the plant needed to survive in this country (as opposed to China, Japan, African countries, and countries in South America, where it is also widely distributed).

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