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Awardees of the new $14 million fund for Planetary Biodiversity Inventories

Solanum: a Worldwide Treatment
Lynn Bohs is heading a team to classify plants in the genus Solanum, which includes major crops such as tomatoes, potatoes and eggplants, as well as numerous lesser-known crops of tropical and subtropical regions, sources of pharmaceutical agents, and poisonous weeds like deadly nightshade. With an estimated 1500 species worldwide, Solanum is the focus of large-scale genomics projects and the genus provides model systems to study plant breeding, pollination biology and fruit dispersal.

All Catfish Species (Siluriformes)-Phase I of an Inventory of the Otophysi
Larry Page of the Florida Museum of Natural History and colleagues will inventory and describe the world's catfishes. Catfishes are extremely diverse, ecologically significant and commercially important. At present, 2,743 species of catfish are recognized, or one of every four species of freshwater fish, but the actual number of catfish species is probably between 3,600 and 4,500. A group of 201 participants from 31 countries, including 57 students, will discover and describe at least 1,000 new species of catfishes, including all fossil catfishes.

Phytophagous Insects as a Model Group for Documenting Planetary Biodiversity (Insecta: Heteropetera: Miridae: Orthotylinae, Phylinae
Randall Schuh at the American Museum of Natural History in New York and his team will conduct a global study of plant-feeding insects in the family Miridae, a worldwide group of insects important in agriculture and as indicators of biodiversity. The scientists will study approximately 5,300 species represented by 550,000 specimens housed in the world's natural history museums, and they will collect an additional 100,000 specimens, primarily in the Southern Hemisphere. M ore than 1,000 species new to science will be described.

Global Biodiversity of Eumycetozoans
Fred Spiegel and Steve Stephenson at the University of Arkansas will lead a group working to describe and classify the estimated 1,300 species of microscopic organisms called Eumycetozoa. Also known as slime molds, eumycetozoans have two extremely different life stages: an amoeba-like stage that feeds on bacteria and fungi that decompose dead vegetation and a spore-dispersing fruiting body stage that looks like fungus. Eumycetozoans are important predators of bacteria and fungi in terrestrial ecosystems, and they provide excellent model systems for developmental biologists to study how different kinds of cells develop in closely related organisms.
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