Biodiv Sci ›› 2022, Vol. 30 ›› Issue (7): 22381.  DOI: 10.17520/biods.2022381

Special Issue: 物种形成与系统进化

• Special Feature: Remembering the 5th Anniversary of the 19th International Botanical Congress • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Insight into the studies on diversity of lycophytes and ferns in China

Ting Wang1, Jiangping Shu1, Yufeng Gu1, Yanqing Li1, Tuo Yang1, Zhoufeng Xu3, Jianying Xiang2, Xianchun Zhang4,*(), Yuehong Yan1,*()   

  1. 1. Key Laboratory of National Forestry and Grassland Administration for Orchid Conservation and Utilization, The Orchid Conservation and Research Centre of Shenzhen, Shenzhen, Guangdong 518114
    2. College of Biodiversity Conservation, Southwest Forestry University, Kunming 650224
    3. South China Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Guangzhou 510650
    4. State Key Laboratory of Systematic and Evolutionary Botany, Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100093
  • Received:2022-07-07 Accepted:2022-07-20 Online:2022-07-20 Published:2022-07-20
  • Contact: Xianchun Zhang,Yuehong Yan
  • About author:First author contact:

    # These authors contributed equally to this work


Background: Lycophytes and ferns are the second largest group of vascular plants, dating back as far as 400 million years ago. Before the domination of angiosperms, lycophytes and ferns were the key component of ancient terrestrial ecosystems, and are still important to modern ecosystems today. Since the 1940s, the study of lycophytes and ferns in China has attracted worldwide attention. In the past five years since the 19th International Botanical Congress (IBC) held in Shenzhen in 2017, research on lycophytes and ferns in China has expanded internationally and focuses on a wider range of scientific issues. A series of important advances have been made on plant diversity, conservation, phylogeny, and ecological adaptation.
Results: From 2017 to 2022, the tree of life for lycophytes and ferns in the world has been reconstructed by the family level, and a new evolutionary model for the sporangium was proposed. Some of the phylogenetic and taxonomic problems of order, family, genus and species of lycophytes and ferns were solved, meanwhile 106 new taxa were published. A large number of floristic collections and studies have been conducted, and six Chinese plus one worldwide monographs on the diversity of lycophytes and ferns have been published. In addition, 65 species of lycophytes and ferns under state priority conservation have been ex situ protected, and spore reproduction has been achieved in priority conservation groups such as Cyatheaceae, Ceratopteris, Angiopteris and Platycerium wallichiia. The ecological restoration and adaptive evolution of lycophytes and ferns were studied under the phylogeny.
Perspectives: After literature survey on the research of lycophytes and ferns in China from 2017 to 2022, we make the following suggestions for future studies: (1) Focus future research on Chinese oligotypic families/genera and the worldwide mega-diverse families/genera. (2) Prioritize research in under-studied areas, such as Tibet and Sichuan, and utilize new technologies (e.g., DNA barcoding) to improve the efficiency and accuracy of species identification. (3) When clarifying the systematic relationship between families, genera, and species by using multi-disciplinary approaches, it is necessary to conduct research on plant evolutionary history and adaptation mechanisms. (4) Research efforts should focus on the common scientific conjecture of the systematic position of lycophytes and fern as the origin for the evolution of terrestrial vascular plants. (5) Pay more attention to the cooperation among the phylogenetics, ecology, phytochemistry, conservation biology and other subjects of lycophytes and ferns.

Key words: vascular plants, new taxa, wild plants under state priority conservation, phylogeny