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World classification and phylogeny of Salix & Populus

This project aims to provide a world classification and phylogeny for Salix and Populus, two widespread temperate genera with great economic importance but notoriously difficult taxonomy.
Salix serissima (Photo: Irina Belyaeva)

Despite the importance of Salix and Populus as valuable resources for bioremediation and potential biofuel there is no universally accepted classification. Species are notoriously difficult to identify because of the great intraspecific variability and the supposed ease with which they hybridize. 450 species are involved.

The project has three research foci:

  • The first is the compilation of a DELTA database of 250 morphological characters, plus chromosome numbers and geographic distributions for all species. To date,150 Eurasian species have been treated, based on field studies and examination of collections from 20 herbaria. Conservation assessments are planned initially for Nepal and the Urals.
  • Secondly, phylogenetic relationships have been explored using cloned fragments of the low copy biparentally inherited nuclear gene, ADH (alcohol dehydrogenase). New primers were developed, and 352 taxa and over 1000 DNA sequences analyzed.
  • Thirdly, the project is working towards a World Checklist for both genera, with reliable, stable nomenclature for all species. So far, records for about 5000 names have been standardized. Compilation for all Eurasian species is complete (30% all taxa), for North American and Chinese taxa ongoing. This work has fed into an update of the IPNI database, not least with the addition of all missing infraspecific names from 1905 – 1971.

Alford M. & Belyaeva I. (2010). Salicaceae sensu lato (including Samydaceae and the majority of former Flacourtiaceae) In: Milliken, W., Klitgaard, B. & Baracat, A. Neotropikey - Interactive key and information resources for flowering plants of the Neotropics.

Belyaeva, I. (2009). Nomenclature of Salix x fragilis L. and a new species, S. euxina (Salicaceae). Taxon 58: 1344-1348. 

Belyaeva, I. & Sennikov, A. (2008). Typification of Pallas’ names in Salix. Kew Bulletin 63: 1-11.

Belyaeva, I. (2007). Typification of the names published by Edmond Boissier in Salix L. Candollea 62(2): 131-140.

Belyaeva, I., Epanchintseva, O.V., Shatalina, A.A. & Semkina, L.A. (2006). Willows of  Ural: Atlas and Identification Key. (in English and Russian). Russian Academy of Sciences, Ekaterinburg. 180 pages.

Project partners and collaborators

Main Botanical Garden of Russian Academy of Science, Moscow
Botanical Garden of Russian Academy of Science, Ural Branch, Ekaterinburg

Professor G.W. Argus   Canadian Museum of Nature, Ottawa, Canada