The Ultimate Grass

In our opinion, bamboos are the most interesting grasses on Earth. It takes a particular type of person to love the tiny little flowers of the grass family, but we think everyone can fall in love with giant woody bamboos. Useful, beautiful, and essential for the health of ecosystems throughout the world – what's not to like?

 

How Did Bamboos Evolve?

In 1997, Scot published the first DNA sequence analysis of bamboos with his mentor Lynn Clark. Since then, techniques have greatly improved and much more data is available for estimating evolutionary relationships among the main lineages of bamboos. Doing that phylogeny estimate rigorously and convincingly has been the focus of our bamboo research. Future directions include dating of bamboo evolutionary events using molecular clock estimates, reconstructing past distributions of bamboo lineages, and predicting bamboo production zones in the near future.

 

Bamboo Phylogeny Group

Together with Iowa State University, we formed the international Bamboo Phylogeny Group in 2005. Project funding came from the National Science Foundation USA in two awards:  DEB-0515712 to Lynn Clark and DEB-0515828 to Scot Kelchner. 

Members of the Bamboo Phylogeny Group include 20 researchers in 10 countries. Leaf material was collected from representative species of all tribes in the grass subfamily Bambusoideae (bamboos). DNA sequencing of 5 genetic loci in the bamboo chloroplast genome was used to compare mutations and estimate the first complete tribal and subtribal phylogeny of bamboos. Thanks to the efforts of the group, the analysis is notable for its species sampling, its rigorous testing of the estimate, and its robust results.

Citation:   Kelchner SA and Bamboo Phylogeny Group (2013) Higher level phylogenetic relationships within the bamboos (Poaceae: Bambusoideae) based on five plastid markers.  Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution  67:404-413

Citation:  Kelchner SA and Bamboo Phylogeny Group (2013) Higher level phylogenetic relationships within the bamboos (Poaceae: Bambusoideae) based on five plastid markers. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 67:404-413

 

A New Scientific Classification for Bamboos

The Bamboo Phylogeny Group used its estimate of bamboo relationships to produce a revised scientific classification for bamboos. The classification was presented at the 9th World Bamboo Congress in Antwerp, Belgium in April 2012.

The classification is available here in abridged form. Subtribe names correspond with the phylogenetic tree above.

Please use the following citation for referencing this work:  Bamboo Phylogeny Group (2012) An updated tribal and subtribal classification for the Bambusoideae (Poaceae). Pp. 3-27 in Gielis, J. and G. Potters (eds.), Proceedings of the 9th World Bamboo Congress, 10-12 April 2012, Antwerp, Belgium