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Germplasm Bank of Wild Species
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Major Research Achievements

In the documentation of local knowledge of plant use, we found that Shuhi people had relatively limited knowledge about medicinal plants but frequently used ritual plants. We postulated two main factors influencing wild plant use among the Shuhi: cultural values and accessibility. The medicinal plant knowledge of the Bai in Shaxi valley was strongly influenced by mainstream Chinese herbal medicine and especially by medicinal plant books from the 1970s, which were distributed under Mao Zedong’s directive to improve rural health care.
In the study of genetic and phytochemical variation of some useful plant species, 14 new components were isolated and identified from 7 herbal medicines. 2 ingenol esters isolated from Euphorbia royleana showed promising bioactivities in this bioassay. In the study of genetic and phytochemical variation of Fritillaria cirrhosa, we found that this species maintained relatively high genetic diversity at the population level, and bulb alkaloid concentration was highest during the early stages of fruit development and decreased significantly with fruit maturation.
In the study of evolution and adaptation of alpine plants in the Tibetan Plateau, our phylogenetical analyses supported the monophyly of Maianthemum. The intercontinental disjunction between eastern Asia and North America in this genus was estimated to be at 1.68 million years ago (mya) and a recent radiation at about 2.04 mya was suggested in the high mountains of SW China. Our study of molecular phylogenetics supported that Salix, Toisusu and Chosenia formed a monophyletic group, and two major clades, the New World and the Old World sub-clades were recognized. Our study of the reproductive allocation of two Polygonaceae species showed that the biomass of flowers and reproductive allocation of male ramets were significantly higher than of female ramets in Oxyria sinensis. Male ramets allocated much more biomass to reproduction than female ramets as a strategy to adapt the unpredictable rain and decreased pollinator visitation in alpine habitat. In the viviparous plant species, Polygonum viviparum, more resources were allocated to flowers in populations at higher altitudes, and to the reproduction organs and flowers under harsh environments. In Anisodus luridus, we found that pendulous flowers did not have any preferred pollinators or increased pollen deposition. Pollen germination indicated that pollen damage by water and exposure to solar radiation was serious. In the persistent calyx that holds water within it, the temperature inside the calyx changed slower than in the calyx that had the water removed. In Comastoma pulmonarium, we found that nectar robbing decreased the number of mature seeds, which suggested a negative influence of robbers through indirect effects via selective seed abortion. Nectar robbing was confirmed to have both negative and positive effects on the quantity and quality of progeny produced in selfing plants.

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