Table of Contents

18 January 2006, Volume 44 Issue 1
    Research Articles
  • XIAO Pei-Gen, WANG Feng-Peng, GAO Feng, YAN Lu-Ping, CHEN Dong-Lin, LIU Yong
    J Syst Evol. 2006, 44(1): 1-46.
    Aconitum L. (Ranunculaceae) is a large genus of about 300 species distributed in the temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere. This genus consist of three well-circumscribed subgenera, subgen. Lycoctonum (DC.) Peterm., subgen. Aconitum and subgen. Gymnaconitum (Stapf) Rapaics. The southwestern China, particularly its Hengduan Mountains region, is the most important center of diversity and speciation of the genus. Many species in this genus have been used as poisonous and medicinal plants. This paper is to evaluate the taxonomic value of diterpenoid alkaloids mainly at subgeneric and serial levels of the genus Aconitum based on an analysis of the distribution of diterpenoid alkaloids in the Chinese species and of their biogenetic pathways. The correlation between phylogeny, chemical constituents and pharmaceutical uses in the genus Aconitum is also discussed from the data of the toxicity and therapeutic value of the species in the genus, a research field for which the term “pharmacophylogenetics” is here specifically coined. The major points of the paper are summarized as follows:
    1. Diterpenoid alkaloids known in plants fall into four skeletal types: C18, C19, C20 and bisditerpenoid alkaloids. They can be further subdivided into 14 subgroups, namely, C18: appaconine-type (I) and ranaconine-type (II); C19:??aconitine-type (III), lycoctonine-type (IV), 7,17-seco-type (V) and lactone-type (VI); C20:?atisine-type (VII), denudatine-type (VIII), hetidine-type (IX),?hetisine-type (X),?veatihine-type (XI) (not found in Aconitum species),?napelline-type (XII) and anopterine-type (XIII) (not found in Aconitum species); and bisditerpenoid alkaloids (XIV).
    2. The species in Aconitum subgen. Lycoctonum contain mainly the C18-diterpenoid alkaloids (lappaconine-type and ranaconine-type) and C19-diterpenoid alkaloids (lycoc- tonine-type). Roots of the plants in this subgenus show a relatively lower toxicity (LD50 to mice=1660–3340 mg/kg (i.v.)) and have been used for the treatment of rheumatism, pains and irregular menstruation etc. Because of the lower toxicity of the roots, the species in this subgenus are worthy a more detailed phytochemical investigation for the development of new medicines.
    3. Aconitum subgen. Aconitum is the largest subgenus, with about 250 species which are usually divided into two sections, section Sinaconitum, a monotypic section including only A. polycarpum, and section Aconitum including the remaining species. The species in China in the latter section are usually divided into nine series. (1). Series Tangutica and series Rotundifolia are all dwarf alpine plants, generally less than 35 cm tall. Phytochemically, they contain mainly the lactone-type C19-diterpenoid alkaloids and sporadically C20-diterpenoid alkaloids. The lactone-type alkaloids have been found so far to occur exclusively within these two series, and thus can be considered as the characteristic chemical constituents of these two series. The roots in the plants of the two series show a relatively lower toxicity (LD50 to mice =ca. 2400 mg/kg (i.v.)). The whole plants of the species have been traditionally used in China’s Tibetan, Mongolian and Uygur regions for the treatment of high fever. (2). The species in series Bullatifolia contain mainly the denudatine-type and the napelline-type C20-diterpenoid alkaloids, and the aconitine-type C19-diterpenoid alkaloids. This series may occupy a somewhat intermediate position in Aconitum subgen. Aconitum from a chemotaxonomic view. In toxicity, the LD50 to mice range from 210–270 mg/kg (i.v.). The roots in this series have been used for the treatment of pains and rheumatism. (3). Series Brachypoda includes A. brachypodum, A. pendulum, A. polyschistum and several other morphologically very similar species. Their roots are recorded as “Xue-shang-yi-zhi-hao” in the Chinese Materia Medica and have been used as anti-rheumatic and analgesic remedies. Phytochemically, they contain mainly the aconitine-type C19-diterpenoid alkaloids, an evolutionarily advanced type. The LD50 to mice range from 130–280 mg/kg (i.v.). It is noteworthy that A. coreanum contains mainly the C20-diterpenoid alkaloids and has a much lower toxicity (LD50 = 2800 mg/kg (i.v.) to mice) than the other species in this series. From a chemotaxonomic view it seems reasonable to segregate A. coreanum and its closet ally, A. anthoroideum, from series Brachyloda to establish an independent series. (4). Series Stylosa, with plants generally of larger roots, are the major sources of “Da-wu-tou”. The species in the series contain mainly the aconitine-type diester C19-diterpenoid alkaloids, which are characterized by the presence of anisoyloxy residues at C-14. The roots display a high toxicity with the LD50 to mice ranging from 24–102 mg/kg (i.v.). From a chemootaxonomic view, A. contortum, mainly with the presence of the hetidine-type C20-diterpenoid alkaloids and the dranaconine-type C18-diterpenoid alkaloids and yet the absence of anisoyloxy residues, seems to be a very special species in series Stylosa. Its systematic position needs to be reconsidered. (5) Series Ambigua, eight species of which have been investigated phytochemically, contains mainly the aconitine-type C19-diterpenoid alkaloids with anisoyloxy residues, indicating its close affinity to series Stylosa. (6). Series Volubilia, which is characterized by having twining stems, contains the aconitine-type diester C19-diterpenoid alkaloids with the presence of an anisoyl or a benzoyl group at C-14. Several species in this series, such as A. sczukinii and A. volubile, contain the highly advanced 15-hydroxyl aconitine-type C19-diterpenoid alkaloids, indicating its possible affinity to series Inflata. The LD50 to mice range from 84–283 mg/kg (i.v.). The roots of many species in this series have been used as folklore drugs for the treatment of trauma and rheumatic pains. In this series, A. hemsleyanum, a very polymorphic species in gross-morphology, exhibits also a great interpopulational phytochemical variation. (7). Series Inflata includes the two most widely medicinally used Aconitum species, A. carmichaeli and A. kusnezoffii. Both are now officially listed in the Chinese pharmacopoeia. They contain the aconitine-type 15-hydroxyl monoester or diester C19-diterpenoid alkaloids, highly advanced chemical constituents in the genus Aconitum. The LD50 to mice range from 66–137 mg/kg (i.v.). The cardiovascular, muscle-smoothing and central effects of the two species have been thoroughly studied. (8). Series Grandituberosa, which is morphologically characterized by having several chain-like arranged tubers, contains the highly advanced aconitine-type C19-diterpenoid alkaloids. The roots, with the LD50 to mice being 29 mg/kg (i.v.), have a high toxicity. (9). Series Racemulosa, with only A. racemulosum var. pengzhouense phytochemically already studied in detail and from it a novel skeleton of C20-diterpenoid alkaloids, i.e. racemulosine, being found, shows extraordinary chemical features. It contains mainly, however, the lycoctonine-type and the aconitine-type amino alcohol C19-diterpenoid and C20-diterpenoid alkaloids. The roots of A. racemulosum are known as “Xue-Wu” and have the actions of activating blood circulation and removing stasis. From a chemotaxonomic view, this series show some primitive features. (10). Series Brunnea is phytochemically not well known. This series contains both C20-diterpenoid alkaloids, e.g. denudatine and songorine, and the highly advanced aconitine-type alkaloids, indicating its intermediate position between the series Bullatifolia and the series Brachypoda.
    4. The monotypic subgenus Gymnaconitum, with only A. gymnandrum, is of both primitive and advanced features phytochemically and gross-morphologically. The whole plant of this species is used as insecticide.
    In summary, 76 Aconitum species in China have been medicinally used. They are mainly used for the treatment of plaque, sepsis, intoxication, cold- and immuno- suppression-induced ailments, rheumatoid arthritis, and various types of pain, including migraine, swelling induced by trauma and fracture, and facial paralysis. Pharmacologically, they can be developed as analgesic, antirheumatic and anti-arrhythmic agents. The key obstacle for their extensive medical utilization may lie in their usually extremely high toxicity. From a pharmacophylogenetic point of view, therefore, the less toxic species, i.e. those in subgenus Lycoctonum, and in series Tangutica, Rotundifolia and Racemulosa, and two species (A. coreanum and A. anthoroideum) in series Brachypoda in subgenus Aconitum, should be paid much more attention. Further comprehensive studies on these species are needed for their better medical utilization.
  • MENG Ai-Ping, WANG Heng-Chang, LI Jian-Qiang, SIMA Yong-Kang
    J Syst Evol. 2006, 44(1): 47-63.
    In this paper, 40 species in 11 genera of the Magnoliaceae from China were karyomorphologically investigated for a better understanding of the intergeneric relationships in the family and the systematic positions of some species, particularly those in the genus Manglietia. The 20 Manglietia species studied are all diploid with 2n=38, indicating that in this genus the speciation may have taken place predominantly at the diploid level and that minor structural changes of chromosomes may have resulted in distinct morphological divergence. In the genus Magnolia, cytotypes with various ploidy levels from 2x to 6x have been found, which may be, at least to some degree, associated with the wide distributional range and complex gross-morphological variation of the genus. Our results indicate that Manglietia should be an independent genus from Magnolia and do not support the treatment of merging them as a genus. All the Michelia species already with chromosome numbers are diploid with 2n=38, while most of the species in Magnolia subgen. Yulania are polyploid, suggesting that Michelia is not closely allied with Yulania and that the two groups should not be merged as a genus. All Parakmeria members are polyploid. It is noteworthy that cytological evidence is generally less informative in clarifying the intergeneric relationships of the Magnoliaceae than the interspecific relationships within a given genus of the family because reticulate evolution may have extensively occurred in this family. Systematic positions of some species in Manglietia are discussed based on evidence from cytology, morphology and geographical distribution.
  • HU Xiao-Yan, YIN Ming-Yan, XIA Wa, TSENG Cheng-Kui
    J Syst Evol. 2006, 44(1): 64-71.
    Members of Chrysochromulina are important components of marine phyto- plankton. Four species in this genus are reported in China for the first time, namely Chrysochromulina cymbium Leadbeater & Manton, C. hirta Manton, C. megacylindra Leadbeater, C. pringsheimii Parke & Manton. Their ultrastructures were studied under electron microscope.
  • DONG Mei, LU Jian-Zhong, ZHANG Wen-Ju, CHEN Jia-Kuan, LI Bo*
    J Syst Evol. 2006, 44(1): 72-85.
    Invasive species pose a serious threat to native ecosystems and their biodiversity, and cause considerable economic loss to the regions they invade. In the case of Canada goldenrod (Solidago canadensis L.) (Compositae), a long-lived perennial plant native to North America, it was initially introduced as an ornamental plant to Shanghai in 1935, it then escaped into the wild and it is now spreading rapidly in China, especially in eastern China. We here describe briefly this species in relation to invasion biology. S. canadensis is actually a Canada-goldenrod complex that consists of at least six subspecies and varieties. S. canadensis has great reproductive capacity (through both seed production and clonal growth) and high genetic variation, both of which contribute to its great invasiveness. S. canadensis may outcompete or allelopathically exclude native plant species, resulting in monospecific stands with concomitant loss of plant and insect diversity, and ultimately alteration in ecosystem functioning. Lack of natural enemies in the invaded ecosystems makes this species highly invasive. Abiotic factors such as niche opportunities created by habitat disturbance and human activities, and nitrogen deposition, can promote S. canadensis’ establishment and spread through seed dispersal and vegetative structures. In addition, the species’ capacity for early season emergence and growth, rapid clonal growth, wide physiological tolerance, and high architectural plasticity make the species highly aggressive under a wide range of ecological conditions. Although commonly used control methods of weeds may also be suitable for S. canadensis, minimising its seed production seems to be critical to its effective control, which requires that all the control measures be taken during its vegetative growth.
  • YANG Ping-Hou, LANG Kai-Yong
    J Syst Evol. 2006, 44(1): 86-88.
    Neottia taibaishanensis P. H. Yang & K. Y. Lang from Shaanxi, China, is described and illustrated. The new species is similar to N. acuminata Schltr. in habit, but differs by the plant being nearly grey-black, the inflorescence axis appressed silvery-grey villose, the sepals, petals and labellum grey-black yet margin grey-white, and the labellum broadly obovate or suborbicular, and apex mucronate.
  • LIANG Jun-Rong, LI Yang, CHEN Chang-Ping, GAO Ya-Hui *
    J Syst Evol. 2006, 44(1): 89-94.
    A nanodiatom genus, Fragilariopsis Hustedt, is newly recorded in China. This genus is characterized by, (1) cells in ribbons united by the entire or the greater part of the valve surface, (2) raphe strongly eccentric, (3) approximately equal numbers of interstriae and fibule, (4) apical axis often heteropolar, and (5) striae with two rows of poroids, seldom one or more than two. A detailed description of the taxonomic characteristics of the genus is given. The two species distributed in East China Sea and Huanghai Sea of China, F. kerguelensis (O’Meara) Hustedt and F. rhombica (O’Meara) Hustedt, were observed under TEM and photographed.
  • CHEN Chang-Ping, GAO Ya-Hui, LIN Peng
    J Syst Evol. 2006, 44(1): 95-99.

    Four species of diatoms from the mangroves in Fujian Province and Shenzhen City of China are described. They are Cymbella cucumis A. Schmidt, Navicula elegantoides Hustedt, N. platyventris Meister, and N. tenera Hustedt. They represent new records for China. Detailed description of the taxonomic characters of the four species and of their ecological behavior is given. Cymbella cucumis was defined as a freshwater and brackish water species for it occurred, though occasionally, where water salinity was more than 15.

  • WANG Jin-Xiu
    J Syst Evol. 2006, 44(1): 100-107.
    In the majority of modern Chinese botanical literature, either Fentiao’er Cai, a Chinese name first appearing in Chiu Huang Pên Ts’ao, or Feijin Cao, a Chinese name first appearing in Chi-wu-ming-shi-t’u-K’ao, or both, have been used as the Chinese generic name of Aletris (Liliaceae). A comprehensive analysis of the descriptions, accompanying figures, morphology and geographical distribution of Fentiao’er Cai and Feijin Cao given in ancient Chinese literature and modern taxonomic literature has shown that Fentiao’er Cai should be Scorzonera albicaulis (Compositae), not Aletris japonica Lamb. (=A. spicata) as first proposed by Japanese botanists and then followed by most of the Chinese researchers, and that Feijin Cao should be Aletris scopulorum, not A. spicata.
  • HONG De-Yuan
    J Syst Evol. 2006, 44(1): 108-110.