THE award ceremony for the Wu Zheng-yi Botanical Award was held yesterday during the XIX International Botanical Congress (IBC) to honor distinguished botanists for their commitment to the development of the plant sciences and the conservation of biodiversity.
De-Yuan HONG, an academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and a research fellow at the Institute of Botany of CAS, was granted 500,000 yuan (US$74,100) as the winner of the Outstanding Contribution Award.
“This award is a great encouragement to botanists who are committed to the basic research of the plant sciences, which is beneficial to the development of the plant sciences,” said HONG, after he was presented with the award during the ceremony.
HONG is an expert in plant taxonomy and evolution. He made extensive expeditions throughout the entire distribution area of the genus Paeonia L., where he sampled populations and examined all of the specimens in 65 herbaria. Subsequently he revised the taxonomy of the entire genus.
His research team revealed a real phylogenetic relationship between the nine species of tree peonies using 25 single-copy nuclear genes. His team also discovered that traditional tree peony cultivars, dubbed “King of Flowers”, originated from natural hybridization among five species of wild tree peonies from Central China, which unveiled a new method for the formation of cultivated species.
Two other outstanding botanists, Lian-Ming GAO and Hong-Zhi KONG, were offered the Young Talent Award and each of them was granted 200,000 yuan. The Young Talent Award aims to honor young botanists under the age of 45 for their innovative achievements in the fields of plant sciences.
GAO is a professor at the Kunming Institute of Botany of the CAS. His major research interests include plant taxonomy, molecular phylogenetics, population genetics, phylogeography, speciation and the DNA barcoding of numerous taxonomic groups, particularly Taxus and Rhododendron.
KONG is also a research fellow at the Institute of Botany of the CAS. His major research interests include evolutionary developmental biology (Evo-Devo), evolutionary regulatory genomics, systematics, molecular evolution and molecular biogeography.
KONG said he was thrilled to be honored with the award, because Wu Zhengyi’s commitment to the development of the plant sciences in China has encouraged him and many of his peers.
Wu (1916-2013), once an academician at the CAS and awardee of the National Highest Science and Technology Award of China in 2007, is well-known by botanists around the world. During his 70-year scientific career, Wu made outstanding contributions to the innovation, development and internationalization of botanical research in China.