Agriculturae Conspectus Scientificus, Vol 75, No 4 (2010)

Taxonomy of Plant Genetic Resources – Use of Morphological, Molecular and Phytochemical Data in Order to Verify Existing Classifications



Taxonomy of plant genetic resources is an important input in characterising and evaluating cultivated plants and it is essential for identification and documentation of the diversity of genebank collections. In former times taxonomical determination was based only on morphological characters. Nowadays, new molecular and chemical methods and techniques are available for providing additional information. As examples of the interaction of morphological, molecular and phytochemical data, investigations of a parsley (Petroselinum crispum [Mill.] Nyman, Apiaceae) and an opium poppy (Papaver somniferum L., Papaveraceae) collection of the German genebank are demonstrated. 220 parsley and 300 opium poppy accessions were cultivated and described morphologically. In addition, the molecular distance and the phylogenetic relationship of the accessions were performed with molecular marker analysis. Essential oil compound and content for parsley and the content of the five main alkaloids (morphine, codeine, thebaine, noscapine, papaverine) for opium poppy were measured with GC (gas chromatography) and HPLC (high pressure liquid chromatography), respectively. For parsley the results of the three methods support the existing taxonomy partly, a separation of root and leaf parsley was confirmed. However, the taxonomy of opium poppy should be revised because molecular and chemical data do not verify the morphological results. But nevertheless taxonomy of cultivated plants is an important tool to describe the variability of plant genetic resources.


genebank; parsley; plant genetic resources; opium poppy; taxonomy

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