Dr. Alan Meerow and his colleagues have published an extensive study of palm relationships focusing on the Coconut Palm, Cocos nucifera, and its relatives. The study appears in the latest issue of PLoS One, a prestigious, broad-based, open-access science journal.

Fiji Dwarf CoconutThe Coconut is one of the world’s most economically important plant species. The origin of the Coconut, and its relationship to other palm species, are long-standing mysteries for botanists. Much previous work has been focused on these questions, with a variety of hypotheses. Dr. Meerow’s work uses a very large DNA data set, which strongly supports a very close relationship between Cocos nucifera and the genus Syagrus. The study found that that Coconut Palm diverged from Syagrus around 35 million years ago.

Especially since 1992, MBC has been actively developing a strong collection of Syagrus and its relatives, and these living plants were used to provide DNA for the investigation. Dr. Larry Noblick, MBC Palm Biologist, is one of the co-authors on the recent work.

Dr. Meerow is the Research Geneticist and Systematist at Chapman Field. From 2006 forward, The MBC Board of Directors has recognized Dr. Meerow as an Honorary Member for his frequent collaboration and assistance with MBC’s botanical research and horticulture. Alan’s participation in joint expeditions with MBC, his advice and consultation, and his coauthorship are of great value to Montgomery. This ongoing collaboration has its roots in the colleagueship of Col. Robert Montgomery and Dr. David Fairchild, and the plant collections they founded at MBC and Chapman Field