APG III tidies up plant family tree

Angiosperms, or flowering plants, have been downgraded from a class to a subclass in the latest and most comprehensive version of the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group (APG) plant taxonomy system.

The APG III system, published in the Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society yesterday (8 October), leaves only two families and three genera unplaced within the family tree of plants. According to botanical secretary of the Linnean Society and Natural History Museum botanist Sandra Knapp: "This comes at a perfect time for my own institution as we move into the Darwin Centre.

"The APG III system also provides the consensus that will allow research and conservation efforts to move forward rapidly. Such publications are key to bringing the field together."

The APG, an international panel of botanical authorities, was set up to establish relationships between flowering plants based on genetic similarity. It first reported in 1998.

The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew's Shirley Sherwood Gallery is hosting an exhibition of botanical paintings, arranged in the latest evolutionary sequence in plants, revealed by recent DNA analysis. The Art of Plant Evolution runs until 3 January 2010. See www.kew.org for more information.


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