Rediscovery of ethereal fairy lantern illuminates its mysterious history — ScienceDaily

Green leaves and photosynthesis were once considered key features of plants. However, some plants have since abandoned this process, obtaining their nutrients from other organisms. One such plant is the genus Seomia, commonly known as fairy lanterns, characterized by their unusual appearance, elusiveness, and lack of photosynthesis. Fairy lanterns are rare and only grow in specific locations. They live underground with their colorful flowers rising above the soil, sometimes making them look like mushrooms. About 90 species of it Seomia It has been found that many of them are known only from the discovery base, and some of them are probably extinct.

one such species, This is cobensis was first discovered in Kobe City, Japan in 1992. Unfortunately, an industrial complex destroyed its habitat and it was subsequently considered extinct. After more than 30 years, Professor Kenji Suetsugu and his colleagues report its rediscovery in Sanda City, located about 30 km away. This unexpected discovery and subsequent investigations shed new light on this remarkable genus and its evolutionary history.

The researchers gave an updated description of This is cobensis to improve the original description which was based on an incomplete museum specimen. Their close examination revealed how This is cobensis different from similar species This is huangii. The rediscovered species can be distinguished by their short and wide ring as well as the numerous short hairs on their stigma. Based on their analysis of various characteristics, the researchers concluded that This is cobensis it is a distinct species, with unique characteristics and evolutionary history. Newly discovered site of This is cobensis it is the northernmost species of fairy lantern. This discovery could provide new insights into the systematic affinities and biogeography of the mysterious fairy lantern, This is Americawhich was originally thought to be associated with several species in Australia and New Zealand. This is America It was discovered over 100 years ago that it is the only North American species of fairy lantern and was observed for a few years on a prairie near Chicago, but is now considered extinct. The presence of mainly tropical genus Seomia in North America is still a bit of a mystery, especially since the species is considered to be its closest relative, This is roadwayi, found in Australia and New Zealand. This strange distribution pattern continues to puzzle botanists.

However, a detailed morphological investigation suggested that This is cobensis he is indeed his closest relative This is America. Therefore, the similarity in external floral morphology between This is America and the Australia-New Zealand species may have evolved independently based on pollinator preferences. This suggests that This is America it may not be related to the Australia-New Zealand species. In contrast, the striking similarities in the morphology of the inner flower, such as the absence of nectar glands in the two species, suggest a closer relationship between This is America and This is cobensis. It is not uncommon for plant species in East Asia and North America to have close relationships and discordant distributions across these regions and can often be attributed to migration through the Beringia land bridge. Therefore, the disconnected distribution of This is America may be due to migration through Beringia.

All in all, rediscover the This is cobensis after thirty years our understanding of fairy lanterns has advanced greatly. As the northernmost species of Asian fairy lantern found to date, it also provides vital insight into the biogeography and evolutionary history of fairy lanterns as a whole. The paper also includes information on conservation measures to help protect these rare plants from human activities. Published in Phytotaxa on February 28, 2023.

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