New species of grass dedicated to University of Leicester botanist

Posted by pt91 at Jan 09, 2012 10:33 AM |
Name of genetically important species honours retired professor

A retired university professor has received the honour of seeing his name attached to a newly discovered species of grass. Brachypodium stacei has been named in honour of Clive Stace, Emeritus Professor of Biology at the University of Leicester.

Professor Stace, who retired in 2003 after more than 30 years at the University, is regarded as one of the UK’s greatest botanists and spent many years classifying the Brachypodium grasses which occur in the Mediterranean, parts  of the Old World and in America.

One particular Brachypodium species, popularly known as ‘purple false brome’, is prized by researchers because it is very similar to – but much simpler than - commercial crops. Now a genetic study published in the Annals of Botany has now confirmed that purple false brome is actually three distinct species and one of these has been given the scientific name Brachypodium stacei in recognition of Professor Stace’s work.

Professor Pat Heslop-Harrison, Chief Editor of the Annals of Biology and Professor of Biology at the University of Leicester, said: “It is important we know how plants are related. The multidisciplinary study led by Pilar Catalán shows how evolution is happening, providing a model for understanding the genetics of our most important foods and how we can use biodiversity for more sustainable farming.”

Brachypodium stacei is also significant as one of the first new plant species to be named in English online. Until 1 January 2012, new plants could only be named in printed journals.

Notes to editors:

The original publication is freely available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/aob/mcr294

Pat Heslop-Harrison is available at +44(0) 777 976 1191 or phh4@le.ac.uk

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