Stack, Peterson interviewed for Press Herald story on how DNA analysis is changing plant taxonomy
The Portland Press Herald spoke with current and former University of Maine horticulturists for a “Maine Gardener” column on how advances in DNA analysis are influencing the plant naming decisions that take place every six years at the International Botanical Congress. “Every once in a while there comes an enormous breakthrough that breaks the system and causes people to rethink things, and that is what is happening now with DNA analysis,” said Lois Stack, who retired last month after a 30-year career as a professor in the School of Food and Agriculture and ornamental horticulture specialist with UMaine Cooperative Extension. Stack told the Press Herald her students would sometimes roll their eyes upon hearing a plant’s botanical name had changed. Stack’s former colleague, Bryan Peterson, an assistant professor of environmental horticulture at UMaine, also noted the time when the International Botanical Congress changed the name of chrysanthemums, or garden mums, to a new genus, dendranthema, only to change it back, when every member of the congress except The Netherlands ignored the switch.