DNA sequences reveal unexpected fern relationships

Recently I have been obtaining DNA sequences from some of the fern samples collected by Te Papa Botany curator Leon Perrie on his recent trip to New Caledonia. We aim to determine the relationships of these New Caledonian ferns to other ferns around the world, including those from New Zealand.

One sample, however, gave us a surprising result. Two of the New Caledonian samples had previously been identified by Leon as members of the fern genus Dryopteris, based on their morphology. The genus Dryopteris has not previously been recorded from New Caledonia, so Leon was quite excited by these finds.

The DNA sequences established that one of these samples is indeed a Dryopteris, thus confirming that this genus is present in New Caledonia. However, the other sample unexpectedly grouped with another, albeit related, fern genus!

Watch this space as we do more work to try and establish the identity of this mystery fern.

The mystery New Caledonian fern that looks remarkably like a Dryopteris. Photo credit: Leon Perrie

The mystery New Caledonian fern that looks remarkably like a Dryopteris Photo credit: Leon Perrie.

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