Puente, Caroline , Amith, Jonathan D. , Salazar, Gerardo A. , Cabrera, Lidia , Kress, John .
Documenting traditional ecological knowledge about plants in Puebla, Mexico, using DNA Barcoding.
The Sierra Nororiental of Puebla, Mexico, comprises 2,668 sq. km., across an altitudinal gradient of 100 to 3100 m. This region includes some of the most endangered montane forests and high priority ecosystems for biological research and conservation found in northeastern Mexico. Moreover, about one-third of its half-million inhabitants speak an endangered language: Nahuat or Totonac. To date, the flora of the Sierra Nororiental and the traditional indigenous knowledge of these plants have been poorly studied. Thus this region is most propitious for ethnobotanical and linguistic research in endangered language communities. Furthermore, the remarkable level of collaboration that has been established between botanical researchers and indigenous organizations and communities offers an exceptional opportunity to evaluate the utility of DNA barcodes not only for plant identification but for broad interdisciplinary research on culture and biodiversity. The Plant DNA Barcode Project, based at the Department of Botany at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History (NMNH), in collaboration with the NMNH Department of Anthropology and the Instituto de Biologia at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), is currently creating a botanical and cultural reference library of the Sierra Nororiental flora through extensive plant field collections and DNA barcoding of all regionally documented vascular plant taxa. Moreover, this project provides a highly synergistic partnership between botanists, linguists, anthropologists, and Indigenous communities. The construction of the DNA barcode library involves three years of comprehensive botanical and ethnobotanical fieldwork throughout the Sierra, identification of fertile specimens by expert taxonomists, and DNA barcoding (using rbcL, matK, trnH-psbA, and ITS) of >3,500 fertile plant specimens. Additional (fertile and sterile) specimens will be collected through community-specific ethnobotanical research and sequenced to compare the resulting DNA barcodes against those of the reference library with the aim of streamlining species identification. We will present preliminary results on the botanical and ethnobotanical field collections, as well as the progress on the regional DNA barcode library and phylogenetic analyses of local plant communities. We predict that these results will lead to the discovery of new species, an understanding of the composition of plant assemblages, the significant extension of the geographical distribution of many plants species, and the creation of extensive and comparative ethnobotanical documentation.
Plant DNA Barcode Project
1 - Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, Botany, 10th St. & Constitution Ave. NW, Washington, DC, District of Columbia, 20560, United States
2 - Gettysburg College, Anthropology, 300 N Washington St, Gettysburg, PA, 17325, United States
3 - INSTITUTO DE BIOLOGIA, UNAM, INSTITUTO DE BIOLOGIA, UNAM, APARTADO POSTAL 70-367, MEXICO, D.F., N/A, 04510, Mexico
4 - Universidad Autonoma de Mexico, Instituto de Biologia, Apartado postal 70-367, Mexico City, D.F., 04510, Mexico
5 - Smithsonian Institution, Botany, MRC-166 National Museum Of Natural History, PO Box 37012, WASHINGTON, DC, 20013-7012, USA
Presentation Type: Oral Paper
Candidate for Awards:None