Center for Middle Eastern Plants

Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Center for Middle Eastern Plants

Edinburgh, United Kingdom
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Guzman B.,Real Jardin Botanico | Rodriguez Lopez C.M.,University of Adelaide | Forrest A.,Center for Middle Eastern Plants | Cano E.,Real Jardin Botanico | Vargas P.,Real Jardin Botanico
Tree Genetics and Genomes | Year: 2015

Quercus ilex L. (holm oak) is a wind-pollinated, sclerophyllous tree that copes with the environmental variability of the Mediterranean climate and that displays flexible ecophysiological adaptability in relation to hydric and thermic stresses. The holm oak dominates Mediterranean woodlands on both acidic and calcareous soils and has been exposed to management (dehesas) for thousands of years. Both protected areas and glacial refugia are supposed to preserve a substantial fraction of the genetic diversity of Iberian species. Genetic diversity was examined for 68 populations sampled throughout Spain using ptDNA SNPs, ptDNA microsatellites, and primarily nuclear AFLPs. Protected populations did not significantly differ from nonprotected populations by any of the measures of levels of genetic diversity. The three-level hierarchical AMOVA indicated that a low number of protected populations harbor most of the species’ genetic diversity. In addition, we found no evidence from either ptDNA or AFLP variation to support that populations from putative glacial refugia are divergent genetic groups as expected during isolation. Outcrossing, anemophilous long-distance pollen dispersal, acorn transport by animals, tree reliance, and habitat availability in Spain probably played a primarily role in homogenizing allele frequency among populations. This result leads us to suggest that extensive gene flow has been prevalent across Spanish populations. We conclude that glacial refugia have not been essential to maintain the neutral genetic makeup of Q. ilex. Nevertheless, conservation of the holm oak in protected areas ensures protection of the species’ genetic diversity, the most widespread woodland ecosystem in Iberia and indirectly the four iconic, endangered animal species (black stork, cinereous vulture, Iberian lynx, western imperial eagle). © 2015, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.


PubMed | Center for Middle Eastern Plants, University of Pretoria, Natural History Museum in London, Copenhagen University and 5 more.
Type: | Journal: BMC evolutionary biology | Year: 2015

Aloe vera supports a substantial global trade yet its wild origins, and explanations for its popularity over 500 related Aloe species in one of the worlds largest succulent groups, have remained uncertain. We developed an explicit phylogenetic framework to explore links between the rich traditions of medicinal use and leaf succulence in aloes.The phylogenetic hypothesis clarifies the origins of Aloe vera to the Arabian Peninsula at the northernmost limits of the range for aloes. The genus Aloe originated in southern Africa ~16 million years ago and underwent two major radiations driven by different speciation processes, giving rise to the extraordinary diversity known today. Large, succulent leaves typical of medicinal aloes arose during the most recent diversification ~10 million years ago and are strongly correlated to the phylogeny and to the likelihood of a species being used for medicine. A significant, albeit weak, phylogenetic signal is evident in the medicinal uses of aloes, suggesting that the properties for which they are valued do not occur randomly across the branches of the phylogenetic tree.Phylogenetic investigation of plant use and leaf succulence among aloes has yielded new explanations for the extraordinary market dominance of Aloe vera. The industry preference for Aloe vera appears to be due to its proximity to important historic trade routes, and early introduction to trade and cultivation. Well-developed succulent leaf mesophyll tissue, an adaptive feature that likely contributed to the ecological success of the genus Aloe, is the main predictor for medicinal use among Aloe species, whereas evolutionary loss of succulence tends to be associated with losses of medicinal use. Phylogenetic analyses of plant use offer potential to understand patterns in the value of global plant diversity.


Van Damme K.,Ghent University | Banfield L.,Center for Middle Eastern Plants
Zoology in the Middle East | Year: 2011

The Socotra Archipelago (Yemen) is globally recognized for its outstanding biodiversity and endemism, designated on this basis a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008. The island underwent long geological and political isolation, ensuring preservation of unique ecosystems until the start of the new millennium. Now, Socotra Island is undergoing rapid development, out of balance with conservation. Major causes for biodiversity loss in other global insular ecosystems such as habitat fragmentation and degradation, pollution, invasive species and the impact of tourism, are becoming pressing issues that deserve close attention. Unsustainable resource use, the loss of traditional land management and illegal trade in biota are worrying phenomena that further increase the pressures on Socotra's ecosystems. We provide the first comprehensive review of potential human impacts on Socotra before the 21 st century, an updated discussion of some of the principal threats to its biodiversity in recent times, discussing local examples within a historical context of known extinction processes on islands, and underline the importance of traditional knowledge in the protection of Socotran ecosystems. © Kasparek Verlag, Heidelberg.


Al-Abbasi T.M.,National Commission for Wildlife Conservation and Development NCWCD | Al-Farhan A.,King Saud University | Al-Khulaidi A.W.,Agricultural Research and Extension Authority AREA | Hall M.,Center for Middle Eastern Plants | And 3 more authors.
Edinburgh Journal of Botany | Year: 2010

An Important Plant Area programme has been initiated for the Arabian region by the IUCN Arabian Plant Specialist Group. The aim of this programme is to assess hotspots of plant diversity in the region and designate the most important as Important Plant Areas. These assessments are conducted on the basis of specific criteria and this paper presents the criteria which have been adopted for the Arabian Peninsula countries of Saudi Arabia, Oman and Yemen. These Arabian criteria differ from those originally developed for Europe, and so they are presented here in full. This paper also discusses the context of the Important Plant Area programme and its ability to provide a framework for conservation planning. © 2010 Trustees of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.


Vargas P.,Real Jardin Botanico RJB CSIC | Valente L.M.,Imperial College London | Blanco-Pastor J.L.,Real Jardin Botanico RJB CSIC | Liberal I.,Real Jardin Botanico RJB CSIC | And 4 more authors.
Journal of Biogeography | Year: 2014

Aim: The biogeographical congruence hypothesis, that similar spatiotemporal patterns of geographical distribution exist across lineages, is revisited in this study, and biogeographical processes in presumed Madrean-Tethyan plants are investigated by employing phylogenetic analyses. Location: Mediterranean and Californian floristic regions. Methods: The snapdragons (tribe Antirrhineae, Plantaginaceae) are one of the plant groups that best illustrate disjunctions between the New World (14 genera) and the Old World (15 genera). A time-calibrated phylogeny (ndhF sequences) and ancestral-area reconstructions were used to test the hypothesis of biogeographical congruence. We estimated support for sister-group relationships together with the probability of temporal congruence of snapdragons and five additional angiosperm groups using a biogeographical approach based on Bayesian inference, parsimony and maximum-likelihood methods. Results: Synchronous divergences of four phylogenetically independent Mediterranean/Californian lineages within Antirrhineae were inferred for the Miocene. This result constitutes the first example of high biogeographical congruence within the same plant group. Analyses of five additional angiosperm groups previously considered exemplars of Madrean-Tethyan disjunctions revealed a total of 10 Mediterranean/Californian sister-group lineages, mostly with Miocene divergence times. In particular, our contrasting biogeographical analysis favoured a prevalent colonization process post-dating the separation of America and Eurasia (Eocene) for at least eight angiosperm lineages. Main conclusions: Explicit testing of the Madrean-Tethyan hypothesis did not support predominant vicariance for Mediterranean/Californian sister groups as previously proposed. Instead, eight Mediterranean/Californian sister-group lineages displayed a Miocene divergence, including considerable biogeographical congruence within Antirrhineae (four independent lineages) and Cistaceae (two lineages). © 2013 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


Patzelt A.,Oman Botanic Garden | Harrison T.,BG Group | Knees S.G.,Center for Middle Eastern Plants | Al Harthy L.,Oman Botanic Garden
Edinburgh Journal of Botany | Year: 2014

Sixty new or updated records of plant species are reported from the Sultanate of Oman, as a result of field work and herbarium research. Four taxa represent new records for Arabia, 26 are new records for Oman, and 30 represent an extended distribution within Oman. Some previously doubtful records are confirmed. Brief comments are given on the phytogeography and ecology of the taxa. Most new records have been made in mountainous areas, either in southern or northern Oman, mostly in areas that previously were botanically very poorly known or unexplored. © Trustees of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (2014).


Llewellyn O.A.,National Commission for Wildlife Conservation and Development NCWCD | Hall M.,Center for Middle Eastern Plants | Miller A.G.,Center for Middle Eastern Plants | Al-Abbasi T.M.,National Commission for Wildlife Conservation and Development NCWCD | And 4 more authors.
Edinburgh Journal of Botany | Year: 2010

Jabal Qaraqir in Saudi Arabia is the first site to be assessed for the Important Plant Area (IPA) programme in the Arabian Peninsula. This paper describes the geology, fauna and flora of the Qaraqir site and provides the first botanical checklist of the area. It designates the locality as an IPA due to the quality of the wadi vegetation and the presence of endemic and biogeographically relictual species. As well as assessments, this study also touches on the planning stage of conservation activity. Socio-economic issues and threats to the conservation of Qaraqir are discussed and suggestions for conservation action are provided. © 2010 Trustees of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.


Bergero R.,University of Edinburgh | Qiu S.,University of Edinburgh | Forrest A.,University of Edinburgh | Forrest A.,Center for Middle Eastern Plants | And 2 more authors.
Genetics | Year: 2013

There are two very interesting aspects to the evolution of sex chromosomes: what happens after recombination between these chromosome pairs stops and why suppressed recombination evolves. The former question has been intensively studied in a diversity of organisms, but the latter has been studied largely theoretically. To obtain empirical data, we used codominant genic markers in genetic mapping of the dioecious plant Silene latifolia, together with comparative mapping of S. latifolia sex-linked genes in S. vulgaris (a related hermaphrodite species without sex chromosomes). We mapped 29 S. latifolia fully sex-linked genes (including 21 newly discovered from transcriptome sequencing), plus 6 genes in a recombining pseudo-autosomal region (PAR) whose genetic map length is ~25 cM in both male and female meiosis, suggesting that the PAR may contain many genes. Our comparative mapping shows that most fully sex-linked genes in S. latifolia are located on a single S. vulgaris linkage group and were probably inherited from a single autosome of an ancestor. However, unexpectedly, our maps suggest that the S. latifolia PAR region expanded through translocation events. Some genes in these regions still recombine in S. latifolia, but some genes from both addition events are now fully sex-linked. Recombination suppression is therefore still ongoing in S. latifolia, and multiple recombination suppression events have occurred in a timescale of few million years, much shorter than the timescale of formation of the most recent evolutionary strata of mammal and bird sex chromosomes. © 2013 by the Genetics Society of America.


Hall M.,Center for Middle Eastern Plants
Environmental Politics | Year: 2011

Human-centred hierarchies have been identified as one of the fundamental drivers of ecological overshoot, biological extinctions and ecosystem collapse. As a political philosophy that rejects hierarchy, authority and domination, anarchism represents a promising basis for a more environmental culture. Yet historically, anarchism has had an ambiguous relationship with the natural world. Whilst claiming to be 'ecological', social ecologists, anarcho-primitivists and deep ecologists have not addressed the need for non-hierarchical relationships with the non-human world. Influenced by eco-feminism, a more promising eco-anarchism is emerging that identifies non-humans as fellow anarchists and activists, intelligently collaborating in the eco-anarchist defence of the Earth. In order to fully remove the corrupting influence of hierarchy, eco-anarchism needs to properly situate non-humans within heterarchical relationships of kinship, care and respect. Strategies for implementing these relationships are suggested. © 2011 Taylor & Francis.


Hall M.,Center for Middle Eastern Plants | Miller A.G.,Center for Middle Eastern Plants
Zoology in the Middle East | Year: 2011

This paper briefly evaluates the activities of the Arabian Plant Specialist Group (APSG), which were initiated in response to the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation (GSPC). For the Arabian Peninsula countries of Oman, Saudi Arabia and Yemen, substantial progress has been made towards meeting the 2010 targets of a regional plant checklist, an IUCN Red List and a programme of identifying and describing Important Plant Areas. A proposal to revise the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation for 2011-2020 is considered with respect to the strategic requirements for successfully implementing a revised strategy in the Arabian Region. Particular attention is paid to the development of online identification tools, to the widespread collection of biodiversity data and the education and training required for ensuring that conservation initiatives in the region are viable in the long term. © Kasparek Verlag, Heidelberg.

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