Journal Article

Orchid biology: from Linnaeus via Darwin to the 21st century

Michael F. Fay and Mark W. Chase

in Annals of Botany

Published on behalf of The Annals of Botany Company

Volume 104, issue 3, pages 359-364
Published in print August 2009 | ISSN: 0305-7364
Published online August 2009 | e-ISSN: 1095-8290 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/aob/mcp190
Orchid biology: from Linnaeus via Darwin to the 21st century

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Orchidaceae are the largest family of flowering plants, with at least 24 000 species, and perhaps better than any other family of flowering plants, orchids represent the extreme specializations that are possible. As a result, they have long fascinated luminaries of the botanical world including Linnaeus and Darwin, but the size of the family has historically been an impediment to their study. Specifically, the lack of detailed information about relationships within the family made it difficult to formulate explicit evolutionary hypotheses for such a large group, but the advent of molecular systematics has revolutionized our understanding of the orchids. Their complex life histories make orchids particularly vulnerable to environmental change, and as result many are now threatened with extinction. In this Special Issue we present a series of 20 papers on orchid biology ranging from phylogenetics, floral evolutionary development, taxonomy, mycorrhizal associations, pollination biology, population genetics and conservation.

Keywords: Conservation; Darwin; evo-devo; Linnaeus; mycorrhizas; orchids; Orchidaceae; phylogenetics; pollination

Journal Article.  3011 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Ecology and Conservation ; Evolutionary Biology ; Plant Sciences and Forestry

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