the future of taxonomic expertise

Una Smith una.smith at YALE.EDU
Wed Feb 2 09:11:36 CST 2000

On Tue, 2 Feb 1999, John Grehan wrote:

>I recently experienced meeting a molecular biologist responsible for
>teaching a plant systematics class who was totally ignorant of the
>diversity of plant structure that I, as a non-botanist, was at least
>aware of.

This is a familiar problem.  Two or so years ago, a molecular biologist
told me that new results in her lab suggested that (drumroll please...)
angiosperm petals are not all homologous.

>Ironically, that biologist was insistent that the basic problems of
>angiosperm evolution had been solved - by molecules of course.

I think this is a problem for our systematics community, not for the
molecular biology folks.  Few systematists go to molbio conferences, or
publish papers in molbio journals.  Systematists probably could do far
more to explain what the outstanding problems are, in terms that fit a
molbio frame of reference.

        Una Smith               una.smith at

        Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
        Yale University
        New Haven, CT  06520-8106

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