Plant classification is one of the core components in undergraduate programs related to plant sciences. Traditionally plant classification courses primarily introduce morphology-based taxonomy because of practical needs in the field. However, the publication of new plant classification systems by Angiosperm Phylogeny Group (APG) using molecular phylogeny methods leads to the trends of using molecular evidence (DNA barcode) for plant identification. In our introductory plant classification course, we included a two-week module (lectures and labs) to introduce key concepts and fundamental skills in molecular phylogeny. Week 1 included concepts of evolutionary tree thinking, data mining in NCBI using BLAST search, and phylogenetic tree building. Week 2 introduced concepts of DNA sequencing and barcoding for plant identification. Student selected their own plants to sequence the DNA barcodes, which were then used in the final exam for practice and summative assessments. One challenge we are constantly dealing with is the increasing difficulty in finding diverse sequence using BLAST because of the fast-growing number of angiosperm genomes sequenced.
plant classification, molecular phylogeny, undergraduate biology education, bioinformatics
Date of this Version
Cai, Chao and Banks, Jo Ann, "Molecular Phylogeny Implemented in an Introductory Plant Classification Course" (2019). Libraries Faculty and Staff Presentations. Paper 151.