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New release of Web-based resource resolves confusion over plant names
Date:6/1/2012

containing thousands of names -- by passing them through a process of exact matching, parsing to break names into their component parts and "fuzzy matching" to search for near matches.

Key work on the TNRS was performed by Zhenyuan Lu and Sheldon McKay of CSHL, as well as by Brian Enquist and Brad Boyle from BIEN and the University of Arizona and Bill Piel from Yale's Peabody Museum. "TNRS is a critical tool to help plant scientists integrate data from diverse sources in virtually every field of plant research," says Lu.

Beginning with Linnaeus

In 1753, Carl Linnaeus, a Swedish botanist and zoologist, published Species Plantarum, which introduced a Latin-based naming system to the world and laid foundations for how subsequent scientists made sense of the immense diversity of life on earth. The Linnaean system is still in operation today, the basis for communication among ecologists studying tropical diversity, crop scientists searching for means of optimizing yields, and so-called systematists who strive to chart the Tree of Life.

Yet for many types of research the first crucial step is to resolve any differences among the taxonomic names of the plants being studied. Consider the tomato, a plant with a troubled taxonomic past. Originally named Solanum lycopersicum by Linnaeus, the tomato was soon transferred to the genus Lycopersicon, and long referred to as both Lycopersicon lycopersicum and Lycopersicon esculentum. Recent DNA research has shown that the tomato indeed belongs in Solanum, meaning that Linnaeus' original name must be restored. Anyone conducting research on the tomato must search for all three names to access the complete data and previous research associated with this economically important species.

The most important feature of TNRS version 3.0 is the ability to hierarchically resolve names against multiple taxonomic sources. Four taxonomic sources are now avail
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Contact: Peter Tarr
tarr@cshl.edu
516-367-8455
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert

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