Chinese and foreign scientists work together to discover the first “meaty bamboo”

Bamboo plants have high economic and practical value. Reporter 25 from the Chinese Academy of Sciences Kunming Plant Research Institute was informed that Chinese and foreign scientists jointly found a very rare meaty multi-pulp bamboo in the Gammonkast region of central Laos, recently named the new genus. The results of the study were published recently in plant search, an internationally renowned journal of plant taxonomy.

Habitat and main morphological characteristics of “multi-meat bamboo”. (Source: Kunming Institute of Plant Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences)

There are about 120 species of bamboo plants in the world, which are the same as rice, wheat, corn, sugar cane, etc. Although such a high diversity has been found in bamboo plants, the meaty, pulpy bamboo has never been reported. Dr. Thomas Heffermans, from the Natural History Museum in Paris, France, and the University of Sorboom, noticed a unique and novel form of bamboo during a field trip to the Gammonkast region of central Laos in 2012 and quickly contacted Li De Baht, a researcher at the Kunming Institute of Plant Research of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Together with researchers from Laos and Brazil, they formed an international cooperation team to conduct ongoing research.

This kind of bamboo has the characteristics of seasonal deciduous leaves and stalk solid, single branch, it also has similar characteristics with cactus, aloe vera, tequila, Big and other distant meat multi-pulp plants, that is, its straw tissue can store water like a sponge for use in the dry season, bamboo straw volume will be with the water content of the straw and seasonal changes, in the dry season the diameter of the straw shrinks and forms many grooves in the outer wall of the straw. Anatomical experiments on the bamboo species also showed this characteristic, with straw tissue, even taken from dry specimens, able to absorb water rapidly and expand rapidly. The “meaty” properties make it particularly suitable for extreme seasonal droughts in natural habitats.

Although the bamboo species has not yet seen flowering results since the first discovery of the plant, through further field investigation, specimen research, especially based on the uniqueness of its morphological characteristics in recent years, combined with the results of anatomy and molecular systems research, the team finally confirmed the system status of this special “multi-meat bamboo” and established a new genus.

“This bamboo species is very rare and narrowly distributed, and as far as we know, only one population has been found, most likely an endangered species belonging to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and more field surveys are needed to find out as much as possible about the distribution of the new population and its flower and fruit patterns.” Because the bamboo species has special drought resistance and morphological characteristics, they suggest further strengthening its physiological ecology and growth and development research, Li said.