Research achievements – highlights

Below we list important achievements in selected areas, each with 1-2 most relevant publications from 2013-2017.

  • Ethnobotany and history of botany: Józef Rostafiński’s enquiry of 1883 concerning Polish vernacular names and uses of plants was the most significant enquiry at that time in the world in regard of its size, issues included in the questions and the obtained results [1]; 58 taxa of wild food plants used in Belarus in the 19th c. were identified, some of them are still used in this country [2].
  • Forest ecology: a wildfire in moist pine forest markedly altered soil properties and, depending on its severity, differently affected tree and shrub colonization and development. Early post-fire recruits may form the major source of canopy trees in late successional stands [3].
  • Interactions of plants with microorganisms: arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) enhance the concentrations of secondary metabolites in plant organs and can be applied to improve quality of materials used in herbal industry [4]; AMF improve invasive plant growth and phosphorus acquisition, thus may accelerate plant invasions [5].
  • Palaeobotany and palynology: based on well preserved specimens from Upper Triassic of Upper Silesia new conifer family Patokaeaceae with new genus and species Patokaea silesiaca has been described, this new fossil family expands our view of extinct voltzialean conifer diversity at the roots of modern conifer families [6]; the application of AMF spores as erosion indicators in peat deposits is highly questionable because the spores may have been produced by mycorrhizal mycelia related to AMF host plants grown into the layer where the deposits lie [7]; the application of molecular indicators of human presence in the past can be used together with palynogical and archaeological data [8].
  • Plant and fungal ecology: cryptogamic community structure clearly corresponds to the degree of soil contamination with heavy metals, thus demonstrating bioindicative value and high relevance of the community approach in metal pollution biomonitoring [9]; several plant associations from the Middle Asian Mountains were described and characterized [10]; both native and invasive plant species richness is positively associated with proximity to the river bed and land cover diversity [11]; invasive plant species richness is negatively linked to beta- and gamma-diversity of native and red-listed species [12].
  • Plant cell biology: new cytological structure was described - nuclear projections “chromatubules” (chromatin-filled tubules), these structures may be involved in nucleus-cell-cell communication, thereby constituting a novel functional process for the plant nucleus [13].
  • Plant ecophysiology: large quantities of cyclotides were observed in violet tissues potentially vulnerable to pathogen attacks indicating their role as defense molecules [14]. 
  • Plant embryology: although the total absence of callose in the ovules of dipolsporous species has been previously suggested, we described in detail callose deposition during the meiotic diplospory of the Taraxacum type in three different apomictic taxa [15, 16].
  • Plant genetics and phylogenetics: FISH and C-banding/DAPI studies explained the origin of polymorphic sex chromosome system XX/XY1Y2 in Rumex hastatulus and provided chromosome landmarks for further studies on the karyotype and sex chromosome evolution in two chromosomal races of this species [17]; the genetic identity of the parental taxa contributing to the hybrid Solidago × niederederi was established by means of direct sequencing of nuclear ribosomal Internal Transcribed Spacer (ITS) and chloroplast intergenic spacer rpl32-trnL. [18]; horizontal gene transfer of mitochondrial gene (atp6) from host to parasite was found in parasitic plants belonging to Orobanchaceae [19]; the first report of dodder (Cuscuta epithymum) parasitizing hemiparasitic species of Santalaceae and Orobanchaceae [20]; commonly repeated statement about contemporary hybridization between two related violets (Viola reichenbachiana and V. riviniana) was rejected on the basis of molecular studies (AFLP) [21]; the intergenic spacer region (IGS), and especially its part adjacent to 26S nrDNA, is a molecular marker allowing for a phylogeny reconstruction of Stipa [22]. 
  • Plant and fungal taxonomy: a new taxonomic account of water buttercups (Ranunculus sect. Batrachium) occurring worldwide, with diagnostic characters, identification keys, ecological preferences and geographical ranges, was published [23]; a new plant species of Stipa sect. Smirnovia [24] and a new parasitic fungus from the genus Anthracoidea [25] were described.
  • Plant tissue culture: the plasticity of isolated immature endosperm tissues of cereals and the capability to change their development pathways under tissue culture conditions were detected [26]; the protocol of effective micropropagation of hybrid sorrel, an energy plant, was developed [27].
  • Polar biology: new vascular plant and cryptogamic communities of the Arctic tundra were described based on current phytosociological data, and the status of previously defined syntaxa were revised using advanced numerical methods [28]; toxic and bioactive substances produced by cyanobacteria and lichens from the Arctic were identified [29, 30].

Our researchers authored numerous scientific expertise in nature conservation programmes [31] and are co-authors of DNA database of hallucinogenic and poisonous fungi suitable for analysis of evidential material (hallucinogenic mushrooms) in forensic genetic laboratories as well as to complement classical methods in the analysis of clinical material [32].

References

[1] Köhler (2015) Archives of Natural History 42: 140-152; [2] Łuczaj et al. (2013) Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine 9(21): 1-17; [3] Dzwonko et al. (2015) Forest Ecology and Management 342: 56-63; [4] Zubek et al. (2015) Plant and Soil 390: 129-142; [5] Majewska et al. (2017) Mycorrhiza 27: 83-94; [6] Pacyna et al. (2017) Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology 245: 28-54;  [7] Kołaczek et al. (2013) Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology 189: 29-37; [8] Madeja (2015) Journal of Quaternary Science 30: 349-354; [9] Rola & Osyczka (2014) Environmental Monitoring and Assessment 186: 5897-5910; [10] Nowak et al. (2015) Weed Research 55: 525-536; [11] Nobis et al. (2016) Biological Conservation 203: 17-24; [12] Nobis et al. (2016) Biological Conservation 203: 17-24; [13] Płachno et al. (2017) Annals of Botany doi:10.1093/aob/mcx042; [14] Ślązak et al. (2016) Planta 244: 1029-1040; [15] Musiał et al. (2015) Protoplasma 252: 135-144; [16] Musiał & Kościńska-Pająk (2017) Protoplasma 254: 1499-1505; [17] Grabowska-Joachimiak et al. (2015) Chromosome Research 23: 187-197; [18] Pliszko & Zalewska-Gałosz (2016) Biological Invasions 18: 3103-3108; [19] Kwolek et al. (2017) Acta Biologica Cracoviensia s. Botanica 59: 13-22; [20] Piwowarczyk et al. (2017) Plant Disease, doi.org/10.1094/PDIS-03-17-0389-PDN; [21] Migdałek et al. (2017) Plant Biology 19: 542-551; [22] Krawczyk et al. (2017) Scientific Reports 7 (11506): 1-11; [23] Wiegleb et al. (2017) Phytotaxa 319: 1-55; [24] Nobis (2013) Plant Systematics and Evolution 299: 1307-1354; [25] Piątek et al. (2015) Mycological Progress 14(12): 120(1-9); [26] Popielarska-Konieczna et al. (2013) Protoplasma 250: 361-369; [27] Ślesak et al. (2014) Industrial Crops and Products 62: 156-165; [28] Węgrzyn & Wietrzyk  (2015) Polar Biology 38: 1905-1917; [29] Chrapusta et al. (2015) Toxicon 101: 35-40; [30] Galanty et al. (2017) Toxicology in Vitro 40: 161-169; [31] Węgrzyn & Wietrzyk  (2014) Guide of the sandy grassland habitats conservation. Klucze Poligrafii, Klucze; [32] Kowalczyk et al. (2015) Croatian Medical Journal 56: 32-40.