The State Herbarium provides opportunities for taxonomic research on the Australian flora in its widest sense. It is actively seeking to extend its research program in the areas of Orchidaceae, macrofungi, environmental weeds and marine macroalgae.
Current research projects at the State Herbarium include:
Biodiversity Discovery: Fungi on Kangaroo Island
Pam Catcheside and David Catcheside (Flinders University) have been surveying the larger fungi in parks on Kangaroo Island since 2002. They have found Flinders Chase National Park to have the greatest number and most diverse fungi of any area so far surveyed in South Australia. Of particular note are the Pixie's Parasol Mycena interrupta, at the western limits of its known range, and the tiny, almost subterranean, whitish truffle-like Torrendia arenaria, which has been recorded previously only in Western Australia. The number of fungi recorded each year continues to rise steadily.
Species and Populations: Intraspecific genetic diversity of SA threatened species
Andrew Lowe, in conjunction with the department's threatened flora ecologists, is investigating the conservation genetics of rare and threatened South Australian plant species. The project encompasses 20 species from eight genera in five families. Comparisons will be made with each species' common congeners in order to understand the genetic consequences of population size and isolation and thus help guide the state's threatened species management programs. Their research has found that low genetic diversity is not an explanation for the low levels of seed set in the Monarto population of Prostanthera eurybioides, suggesting that seed set may be constrained by other factors such as resource and/or pollinator availability.
DNA barcoding program
The State Herbarium started its DNA barcode program in association with the Evolutionary Biology Unit, the University of Adelaide and South Australian Museum. Andrew Lowe, Hugh Cross and Fred Gurgel are building a molecular barcode dataset for Southern Australian plants and macroalgae. Potential markers have been selected and the production of DNA sequences has started. Primary target groups include grasses (Monocot), trees (TreeBOL) and benthic brown algae (Fucales). The macroalgal component also encompasses the flora of Australian coral reefs, in partnership with the Census of Coral Reefs.