Botanical findings on plant classification useful for medicine, agric, pharmacy —Prof Adedeji

Professor Olubukola Adedeji, Professor of Botany, has stated that plant classification and grouping by taxonomic evidences can be harnessed from several disciplines of botany, to make taxonomic deductions, giving rise to data that could be useful for application in pharmacy, medicine, and agriculture.

Professor Adedeji, the Dean of the Faculty of Science, Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife made this known while delivering the 335th Inaugural Lecture of the university, titled, “That I May Know Plants: Important Characters in Plant Identification and Grouping (Taxonomy),” the fifth in the Department of Botany and the first from Plant Taxonomy.

According to her, plant taxonomy which is her specialisation is important “because it deals directly with the fascinating differences among the species of organisms/plants that inhabit the earth.”

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In her lecture, speaking on the sub-topic, “Taxonomic Evidence (Characters for Classification)”, she stated that “any botanical analysis of a plant necessitates the availability of information about its characteristics. Taxonomic evidence enables better understanding of taxonomic affinities between plants and brings about appropriate identification and grouping of plants. Taxonomic evidence is used for characterization, identification and classification of organisms, populations, and taxa as well as for the determination of phenetic, genetic and phylogenetic relationships.”

Professor Adedeji noted that, “it is in the use of different disciplines of Botany, gathering taxonomic evidences in form of different characters, that I have spent my working career in the university studying, with the aim of documenting important characters for identification and grouping (classification) in the plants I studied; thereby making useful taxonomic deductions not only for Botanical information, but also to produce data that could be useful for those in related disciplines such as pharmacy, medicine, agriculture, and so on.”

Giving instances of her research work and contributions to knowledge, she stated that “By dint of coincidence early in the year 2002, I came across the wild plant of the cultivated tomato, Lycopersicon pimpinellifolium (Jusl.) Mill. whose vegetative growth resembles very closely, the vegetative growth of the cultivated Lycopersicon esculentum Mill. tomato plant.”

She subsequently conducted a morphological study of the two species to try and identify possible characters that could distinguish them from seedling stage.

“To my knowledge, this was the first known reported work on this wild and cultivated species in Nigeria,” the dean noted.

Other ground breaking work including that of the genus Emilia Cass. She noted that this also was a novel report on the genus in Nigeria.

Professor Adedeji who still serves as reviewer for many journals both nationally and internationally, said the need for funding for research is highly crucial.

She appealed to the Federal Government of Nigeria and other relevant bodies “to do better in the area of funding research.”

Governments and their agencies at all levels and the private sector must encourage and fund research in the interest of sustainable research, postgraduate training and national development.”

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