ISSN 1188-603X

No. 412 August 21, 2009 Victoria, B.C.
Dr. A. Ceska, P.O.Box 8546, Victoria, B.C. Canada V8W 3S2


Brian Klinkenberg (Department of Geography, UBC,

E-Flora BC ( is an online biogeographical atlas of the plants of British Columbia that provides distribution mapping and summary ecological information. E-Flora BC has grown substantially since it first became available in 2004 with the launching of 3480 atlas pages for vascular plants (which brought the 8 volumes of the Illustrated Flora of British Columbia online). Today, E-Flora covers vascular plants, non-vascular plants, fungi and lichens, and includes a growing photo gallery.

But there is more yet to be done. Although we have more than 5,500 atlas pages already available on E-Flora, there are still gaps in species coverage. Atlas pages are now available for 300 lichen and 1680 fungi species, thanks to Trevor Goward, Del Meidenger and Ian Gibson, but only a comparatively few atlas pages are available for bryophytes (407) and algae (142). The atlas pages in these groups have brought online two publications: Some Mosses of British Columbia (by Wilf Schofield) and North Pacific Seaweeds (by Rita O'Clair and Sandra Lindstrom). Each of these covers just over 100 species, only a small portion of the BC flora for these groups. However, we hope to provide additional coverage of these, and first up will be the addition of twenty atlas pages on liverworts, prepared by the late Wilf Schofield.

E-Flora is a large and complex project and, in addition to developing more atlas pages, we are busy adding new features to the site, updating mapping and generally adding more capability. Recent additions and changes include:


From: Dr. Barry Mendel Cohen, 239 Hibiscus Court, Brownsville, TX 78520
Pringle, Peter. 2008.
The murder of Nikolai Vavilov: The story of Stalin's persecution of one of the great scientists of the twentieth century. Simon & Schuster, New York. xii+370 p. ISBN-13: 978-0-7432-6498-3 [hard cover] Price: US$26.00
Available from:
Simon & Schuster Sales at 1-800-456-6798 or e-mail business@simon&

Peter Pringle is an accomplished author and journalist who has written an intelligent and scholarly biography of Nikolai Vavilov which is thoughtful, accurate and moving. Pringle's other biologically oriented books include Food Inc. and Cornered: Big tobacco at the bar. As Moscow bureau chief for The Indipendent UK newspaper, he became interested in the life of the pre-eminent Russian plant geneticist Nikolai Ivanovich Vavilov, and in doing so became friends with Vavilov's son Yuri Vavilov, who provided him with much personal information relating to his father's arrest in 1940. Pringle also was in contact with Dr. Zhores Aleksandrovich Medvedev who was exiled from the former Soviet Union in 1973 and who wrote The rise and fall of T.D. Lysenko. Pringle as well used a similar source, Dr. Valerii N. Soyfer's Lysenko and tragedy of soviet science both of which highlight the Vavilov-Lysenko controversy. Morevover, Pringle did archival research himself in Russia, the UK, and the USA. This book is just based on the firmest of sources.

Vavilov holds a high place in the history of genetics, alongside his professor and colleague, William Bateson. After graduating from the Moscow Agricultural Institute in 1910, Vavilov journeyd to England to study with Bateson. Returning to Russia at the outbreak of World War I, Vavilov took up a position at Saratov University where he developed two important agricultural theories.

The first was the Law of Homologous Series in Variation (published in Russian in 1920 and later in English, see Vavilov 1922) which states that related biological species tend to parallel each other in hereditary variability. Is then worthwhile to search for similar varieties of related species in nature. This law is useful, but does not provide absolute predictability.

The second important Vavilov's theory is the Centers of Origin for Cultivated Plants. This theory assumes that agriculture developed historically where the greatest variety of given domesticated species existed in the wild. According to Vavilov, there were about eight major regions in the world where most of the cultivated plants have originated.

Peter Pringle, however, believes that Vavilov's greatest contribution was development of the World Collection of Cultivated Plants and details its modern version in Norway.

The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation was wise to support Pringle's work and has done a great service to the history of genetics. Pringle's biography is an excellent work and will be the standard for years to come.

Additional reading (added by the BEN editor):

Cohen, B.M. 1991.
Nikolai Ivanovich Vavilov: The explorer and plant collector. Economic Botany 45:38-46.
Dobzhansky, T. 1947.
N.I. Vavilov, a martyr of genetics 1887-1942. Journal of Heredity 38:226-232.
Soyfer V. N. 1994.
Lysenko and the tragedy of soviet science. Rutgers University Press, New Brunswick, NJ.
Vavilov, N.I. 1922.
The law of homologous series in variation. Journal of Genetics 12: 47-89.


Gebr. Borntraeger Publishers are pleased to announce the publication of the first installment of the 13th edition of Engler's Syllabus of Plant Families, covering Bryophytes and seedless Vascular Plants.

Part3: Bryophytes and seedless Vascular Plants (Syllabus of Plant Families, Part 3) Edited by Wolfgang Frey. 13th ed., 2009. X, 419 p., 72 figs., 1 tab, hardcover, ISBN 978-3-443-01063-8, EUR 89

The volume provides a state-of-the art, current and thorough treatment of the world-wide morphological and molecular diversity of a part of "lower" plants [Marchantiophyta, Bryophyta, Anthocerotophyta, Polysporangiomorpha, Protracheophytes, Rhyniophytina, Lycophytina, "Trimerophytina", Moniliformopses (Cladoxylopsida, Psilotopsida, Equisetopsida, Marattiopsida, Polypodiopsida)], and Radiatopses (Progymnospermopsida). The advent of DNA sequencing and advances in phylogenetic analysis has raised new interest in the relationships of liverworts, mosses, hornworts, ferns, and fern allies as extant representatives of early land plant evolution. Following the tradition of Engler with the morphological-anatomical data and incorporating latest results from molecular phylogenetics and phylogenomics, an up-to-date overview of families and genera has been created that will serve as reference for a long time.

"Bryophytes and seedless Vascular Plants" should be on the bookshelf of any researcher concerned with bryophyte systematics.

The complete Engler Syllabus book series will have five parts. The forthcoming volume covers the blue-green algae, myxomycetes and fungi.

The new title is available through your bookseller or directly from Gebr. Borntraeger Science Publishers, Johannesstrasse 3a, 70176 Stuttgart, Germany. FAX: ++49-711-351456-99, phone ++49-711-351456-0

Send submissions to
BEN is archived at