Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Out of Africa? New bamboo genera, mountain gorillas, and the origins of China's bamboos

Date:
August 23, 2013
Source:
Pensoft Publishers
Summary:
African mountain bamboos look like Asian bamboos, with Mountain Gorillas instead of Giant Pandas, but research has shown that they are as different to Asian bamboos as the Gorilla is to the Panda, and they represent two completely new genera. Bamboos evolved in Gondwanaland, and how they reached China is unknown. Like modern humans they could have came 'Out of Africa', but it now seems more likely they were a gift to China from India.

Young Mountain Gorilla inspects shoot of Oldeania alpina.
Credit: Kate Tann 2012; CC-BY 3.0

African mountain bamboos are something of a mystery, as nearly all bamboos are found in Asia or South America. Hidden away up mountains in the tropics where they provide food for gorillas, just as China's bamboos provide food for the Giant Panda, there are apparently only 2 species, and they had not been examined in very great detail, except by the gorillas, see image.

It had been thought that they were very closely related to the hundreds of similar bamboos in Asia, but their respective ranges are separated by thousands of miles. As flowering in bamboos is such a rare event, spreading by seed takes a very long time, and the suspicion arose that they might be old enough to represent new genera, and possibly could even be remnants of the earliest temperate bamboos, which spread to Asia on drifting tectonic plates. A new study published in the open access journal PhytoKeys, studies the diversity and evolution of African bamboo.

Having studied bamboos in the Himalayas extensively, and edited the descriptions of all the bamboos of China for the Flora of China Project of Academia Sinica and Missouri Botanical Gardens, Dr Chris Stapleton turned his attention to the bamboos of Africa. He found that the features of the mountain bamboos were significantly different to those of Asia, and together with the large geographic separation, the differences were sufficient for the recognition of 2 new African genera, now named Bergbambos and Oldeania, after their local names in the Afrikaans and Maasai languages. The species are now Bergbambos tessellata and Oldeania alpina.

DNA had been extracted from these bamboos and examined on several occasions, but the results of analyses were variable and could not prove a close relationship to any of the bamboos of Asia. What is clear when looking at all the DNA results together is that the African bamboos represent two separate lineages, and neither can be included in any known Asian genus.

Earlier work on the global distribution of bamboos has shown that bamboos evolved in the southern hemisphere on a landmass called Gondwanaland, parts of which spread apart to form South America, Africa and Asia when it broke up as a result of continental drift, the slow movement of tectonic plates on Earth's surface. The incredible variety of temperate bamboos in China is thought to be a result of the early bamboos spreading out from either Africa or India when the plates collided and allowed the hitch-hiking bamboos to jump across into new territory.

The features and DNA of the African bamboos are certainly different to those of East Asia, but it is still not clear whether they are really different enough to represent ancestors of all the Asian bamboos. It will be necessary to hunt out and study mountain bamboos of Sri Lanka and Madagascar and to include them in a broader analysis to be sure. From this review, however, it looks as though African bamboos evolved about the same time as the bamboos of E Asia. The miriad temperate bamboos of China are more likely to have been a gift from India, rather than another 'Out of Africa' story, but further work is needed to be sure. What is clear is that Africa has two more endemic genera, and the bamboos are seen to be as unique as the animals that depend upon them.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Pensoft Publishers. The original story is licensed under a Creative Commons License. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Chris Stapleton. Bergbambos and Oldeania, new genera of African bamboos (Poaceae, Bambusoideae). PhytoKeys, 2013; 25: 87 DOI: 10.3897/phytokeys.25.6026

Cite This Page:

Pensoft Publishers. "Out of Africa? New bamboo genera, mountain gorillas, and the origins of China's bamboos." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 August 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130823102356.htm>.
Pensoft Publishers. (2013, August 23). Out of Africa? New bamboo genera, mountain gorillas, and the origins of China's bamboos. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130823102356.htm
Pensoft Publishers. "Out of Africa? New bamboo genera, mountain gorillas, and the origins of China's bamboos." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130823102356.htm (accessed April 23, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

California Drought Is Good News for Gold Prospectors

California Drought Is Good News for Gold Prospectors

AFP (Apr. 22, 2014) — For months California has suffered from a historic drought. The lack of water is worrying for farmers and ranchers, but for gold diggers it’s a stroke of good fortune. With water levels low, normally inaccessible areas are exposed. Duration: 01:57 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: MN Lakes Still Frozen Before Fishing Opener

Raw: MN Lakes Still Frozen Before Fishing Opener

AP (Apr. 22, 2014) — With only three weeks until Minnesota's fishing opener, many are wondering if the ice will be gone. Some of the Northland lakes are still covered by up to three feet of ice, causing concern that just like last year, the lakes won't be ready. (April 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Is North Korea Planning Nuclear Test #4?

Is North Korea Planning Nuclear Test #4?

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) — South Korean officials say North Korea is preparing to conduct another nuclear test, but is Pyongyang just bluffing this time? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Nasa Gives You An Excuse to Post a Selfie on Earth Day

Nasa Gives You An Excuse to Post a Selfie on Earth Day

TheStreet (Apr. 22, 2014) — NASA is inviting all social media users to take a selfie of themselves alongside nature and to post it to Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Instagram, or Google Plus with the hashtag #globalselfie. NASA's goal is to crowd-source a collection of snapshots of the earth, ground-up, that will be used to create one "unique mosaic of the Blue Marble." This image will be available to all in May. Since this is probably one of the few times posting a selfie to Twitter won't be embarrassing, we suggest you give it a go for a good cause. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins