Plant Phylogeny & Chemotaxonomy

Chemotaxonomy as such is a really interesting field of science for a phytochemist, but to complicate that with the determination of exact plant phylogeny can be quite nerveracking so multidisciplinary expertise is needed here as well

More work is needed with the plant species phylogeny

The study of plant species evolution is really exciting branch of science, especially when the evolution of different types of biosynthetic pathways of defense compounds are linked with the species evolution. When complete, the plant species phylogeny is able to reveal how plant orders, families, genera and species were evolved during the plant species evolution. At the moment the phylogeny is well resolved at the order and family levels thanks to the work coordinated e.g. by the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group. The genus and species levels are less well covered and some genera are only very slightly resolved.

Distribution of defensive compounds in the plant phylogeny – all known?

The variation of defensive compounds within the plant phylogeny is known relatively well only for some parts of the phylogeny and for certain compound types. However, the big picture is not clear at all, since so many species are chemically a black box, i.e. their defensive chemistry is not known at all. This is especially true for thousands of species from the tannin chemistry point of view. Their tannin-based chemotaxonomy is not very well resolved and much of this is due to the inadequate use of efficient LC-MS instruments in the screening studies.

Our activities at the Natural Chemistry Research Group on the plant species phylogeny have so far focused on plant species from three different perspectives: the screening of the Finnish plants, and the screenings of the Oenothera and Eucalyptus plant genera. However, we are heavily working to achieve a collection of 7000 species with known phylogeny, and later defensive chemistry.

Who created this phylogeny thing – why is chemotaxonomy not enough?