Green Plant Phylogeny Research Coordination Group


Montreal GPPRCG Workshop

August 7, 1997

9:00 am - 5:00 pm

Administration Building, Montreal Botanical Garden

The Green Plant Phylogeny Research Coordination Group (GPPRCG) sponsored two major public symposia at the AIBS meeting in Montreal, August 3-7, 1997. One of these was on bryophyte phylogeny (Monday, August 4th), the other on fern phylogeny (Tuesday, August 5th). In support of these symposia, the GPPRCG held an all-day workshop on Thursday, Aug. 7, to which all speakers as well as selected other specialists on these plant groups were invited. This provided an opportunity for discussions and interactions on the topics of the symposia as well as on the more general goals of the GPPRCG. Specific topics addressed included:

We met at the Montreal Botanical Garden, and owe thanks to the staff of the Garden for their hospitality. We especially want to thank Dr. Luc Brouillet of the Institut de Recherche en Biologie Végétale for making the physical arrangements for our meeting, and for organizing two delicious meals.

Participants present:

Jennifer Marie Arrington

Steve Churchill

Dave Conant

Martha Cook

C. J. Cox

Barbara Crandall-Stotler

Peter Crane

Ray Cranfill

Andew Drinnan

Jean-Yves DuBuisson

William Friedman

Patricia Gensel

Bernard Goffinet

Chris Haufler

Terry A. Hedderson

Jaakko Hyvönen

Jodi Irwin

Paul Kenrick

Catherine Lafarge-England

Louise Lewis

Brent D. Mishler

Robbin Moran

Angela Newton

Kathleen Pryer

Yin-Long Qiu

Tom Ranker

Gar Rothwell

Patricia Sanchez

Steffen Schaffer

Harald Schneider

Sedonia Sipes

Judy Skog

Alan Smith

Pam Soltis

Diana Stein

Ray Stotler

Carl Taylor

Jay Therrien

Dale Vitt

Dennis Wall

Warren H. Wagner Jr.

Florence Wagner

Charlie Werth

John Wheeler

Niklas Wikstrom

Paul Wolf


9:00 A general meeting covered the basic goals of the GPPRCG and of this workshop. After about an hour and a half, we broke into subgroups for the rest of the day.

The agenda for the subgroups varied somewhat depending on the needs of that subgroup. Kathleen Pryer and Alan Smith led the fern subgroup meeting. Brent Mishler led the bryophyte subgroup (which split again into a moss group and a liverwort sub-subgroup).

One general agenda item was to go around the room and briefly summarize new conclusions that were presented at this meeting (since not all will be able to see all papers). Handouts and/or reprints of recent trees/data sets were provided by many participants. A second general item was to carry-on any residual discussion resulting from the two symposia. Finally, we discussed the data availability matrix (DAM) for each subgroup and mechanisms to fine-tune it.

A catered lunch was served at the Garden, following which we continued with the breakout sessions until about 5:00.


1. Symposia for the IBC in St. Louis in 1999

The overall plan is to have one "Keynote" symposium on the phylogeny of the major groups of traditional "plants", which will summarize 5 general symposia: Green Plants (the final overall GPPRCG symposium), Brown Plants, Red Plants, Fungi, and the overall big picture of life.

In addition to our GPPRCG symposium, we have instigated the other four general symposia, so it is fair to count them as a "spin-off" benefit of our grant, i.e., using the GPPRCG as a model to start similar efforts in the other big clades of life.

In discussions at Montreal, we realized that we will need to also have feeder symposia into the GPPRCG one as well, i.e., more technical symposia focused on some of the big phylogenetic compartments such as mosses, ferns, and angiosperms. Diagrammatically, the structure will look something like this:

GPPRCG "Feeder" Symposia:

angiosperm phylogeny \ General Symposia:

fern phylogeny \

moss phylogeny ------ Green Plants (GPPRCG) \

liverwort phylogeny / Brown Plants \

chlorophyte phylogeny / Red Plants ------ Keynote

Fungi / Symposium

Big Picture of Life /

The exact structure will become clearer after the October meeting of the IBC Program committee, where everything will be polished up and any gaps filled in. But the GPPRCG resolved to be sure that at least rough proposals go in by September 15th, 1997.


2. Publication Strategies

A. Feeder symposia. We also talked about publication strategies for the final GPPRCG results following the 1999 IBC. Both the fern and bryophyte groups thought that separate publication is warranted for the "feeder symposia", i.e., detailed foci on liverworts, mosses, ferns, etc. These would be submitted to peer-reviewed journals in the fields involved.

Dale Vitt, who is the Editor of The Bryologist, was present and wants to publish the moss and liverwort symposia from the 1999 meeting. He is also publishing the symposium from the symposium at THIS year's meeting, but this symposium is different in nature, being the original data reports of a number of different lab groups. So while the current publications (firm due date 12/1 for publication next summer) will each cover different genes, and somewhat non-overlapping data sets, the 1999 bryological symposia papers will have co-authors from different labs and all available genes (hopefully for the same sets of taxa) and will be synthetic in nature (rather than original data reports). The two sets of papers would be published only two years apart, but would have two different roles, so The Bryologist is interested in both.

The fern people considered a similar strategy, and we hoped that the other "compartment" groups (such as the chlorophyte algal clade) might consider a similar route. This would take care of the specialized "feeder" symposia; all would be published in the peer-reviewed journals as appropriate. This mechanisms would ensure that each lab group get proper credit for its own work.


B. An over-all GPPRCG product. We propose an edited book, published by a university press, with something like the following outline:

I. Introduction to project

[A single introductory chapter giving an overview of the history of this area of study, and the project itself]

II. Phylogeny

A. Analysis of Large Data Sets

[Chaps. by our theoreticians on different approaches & methods. They might use simulated data sets for examples, but the GPPRCG data sets would be analyzed below.]

B. Phylogenetic Analyses of the Green Plants

[Chaps. presenting a nested set of analyses, much as in the general GPPRCG symposium plan. Co-authors would be chosen to represent all lab groups interested in questions; thus alternative trees could and should be presented in cases of controversy]

III. Evolution

A. Introduction to Comparative Methods

[1 or 2 Chaps. on uses of phylogenies]

B. Evolutionary trends in Green Plants

[Chaps. arranged by themes, such as reproductive biology, desiccation-tolerance, gametophyte-sporophyte interations, vascular tissues, spores, molecular evolution, etc. etc. Ned Friedman initially suggested splitting this kind of thing out from the phylogeny chapters, and I think it would greatly increase the involvement of researchers and value to the community.]

IV. The book would be accompanied by a CD-ROM with Nexus data files including footnotes and figures, which would be of special use in teaching.



3. Future plans

In terms of how to spend the remaining funds for the next two years, in discussion it appeared that we don't need to sponsor any more large empirical symposia (except for the 1999 Congress, of course, where we could easily spend all the money allocated for that year). The only suggestion for another meeting was sponsoring another workshop on data analysis in a venue that would bring together theoreticians with empirical scientists.

As an alternative to formal, large-group meetings for 1998, many thought that instead we should fund small working-group gatherings scattered around the US as needed. For example, the co-authors of the fern chapter could get together at one of their own labs and do some real data analysis. Therefore, the PIs will take applications from sub-groups to get together in 1998 and early 1999, as funds allow.