Proposed Symposium Title: TELLING PLANT SPECIES APART WITH DNA
Abstract: This symposium will focus on recent developments in the use of DNA sequencing for plant identification. The identification of plant species underpins species conservation and sustainable use, as well as the interpretation of ecological and evolutionary processes. However, there are still many challenges in achieving large scale, high throughput accurate identification for plants. The session will bring together an international group of speakers tackling recent advances in this field. These include (a) large-scale deployment of standard DNA barcodes for elucidating ecological and evolutionary processes in biodiversity hotspots, (b) investigations into the development of multi-locus genomic barcodes to increase routine levels of species discrimination and better understand the nature of genomic differences between plant species, and (c) advances in the application of DNA identification methods to topics as diverse as assessing the authenticity and legality of species in trade, undertaking contemporary vegetation surveys from environmental DNA samples from water, air and sediments, understanding trophic interactions among species (such as pollination and diet analysis), and reconstructing historical vegetation assemblages. Cutting across these themes are developments in the utilisation of high-throughput sequencing platforms, protocols for recovering DNA sequences from low quality starting tissue, and the growth of international collaborative projects building shared reference libraries and informatic resources to support DNA-based plant identification efforts. There is a considerable amount of activity in this area across continents and taxonomic groups, tackling a diverse array of topics, and the aim of the symposium is to bring together researchers using DNA for plant identification to exchange ideas and foster future collaborations.
Speaker 1: Prof Michelle van der Bank
University of Johannesburg, South Africa
DNA barcoding Africa plants: insights into ecology, evolution, and sustainable utilisation of plant resources
Speaker 2: Prof Li De-Zhu
Kunming Institute of Botany, China
Large scale DNA sequencing of plant biodiversity in a global biodiversity hotspot – the China plant barcode of life
Speaker 3: Prof Peter Hollingsworth
Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
Prospects (and challenges) for routine plant species identification using genomic barcodes
Topics (Up to three): Systematics
Topic 2: Conservation Biology
Topic 3: Phylogenetics and Phylogenomics
Justification: There is a global community of researchers using DNA-methods to tell plant species apart. This involves high-throughput DNA barcoding for specimen identification, the development of genomic approaches tackling the complex nature of plant species boundaries, and innovative applications of DNA-based identification addressing biological (e.g. ecological/evolutionary) questions, as well as societal needs for telling plant species apart. Given the diverse range of topics that this symposium touches on, and the rapid pace of developments in the field, we expect the symposium to be well-attended and of wide interest. Additional speakers will be selected from abstracts submitted from under-represented areas and/or countries.