The natives of Borneo knew that a tree was two different species. Genetic analysis confirms that they were right

A pingan lumok fruit (left) and a beloved lumok fruit (left). Credit: Gardener et al./Current Biology

More than 200 years ago, a Spanish botanist described Artocarpus odoratissimus, a species of fruit tree found in Borneo and the Philippines. The Iban people, who are natives of Borneo, know that the tree has two different varieties, called lumok and pingan, which are distinguished by the size and shape of the fruit. Despite this knowledge, Western botanists have long considered the tree as a single species, but a genetic analysis, published in the journal on June 6. Current biologyconfirms that iban people were right all the time.

To determine the correct taxonomy of the tree, which is of the same genus as the trees that produce the fleshy jackfruit, the scientists took DNA samples from trees in Borneo, Malaysia and from historical herbarium specimens. They used phylogenetic and microsatellite DNA analyzes to show that, although lumok and pingan are closely related, they are genetically different species. Scientists recommend changing the name of the trees to reflect this and suggest that it is time to consider incorporating indigenous names into taxonomic research.

“Although the scientific endeavor has long benefited indigenous knowledge, it is not normally committed on an equal footing,” write the authors, who include Malaysian scientists and Iban field botanists. directed by Elliot M. Gardner, botanist at Florida International University. . “While Linnaeus’ taxonomy provides a broad framework for global comparisons, they may not have the detailed local knowledge that indigenous peoples possess.”

“Time is of the essence, because just as biodiversity is threatened by climate change, indigenous knowledge, protected by Article 8 (j) of the Convention on Biological Diversity, is threatened by social change,” said Gardner and his colleagues.

Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities Are Key to Achieving Biodiversity Goals More information: Elliot M. Gardner, Engagement with indigenous people preserves local knowledge and biodiversity alike, Current biology (2022). DOI: 10.1016 / j.cub.2022.04.062. 60 0960-9822 (22) 00680-7

Citation: The natives of Borneo knew that a tree was two different species. Genetic analysis confirms that they were right (2022, June 6) retrieved June 6, 2022 from

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