GrainTax Synonymy Tables Project: First Progress Report, March 1999

L. A. Morrison

Herbarium, Department of Botany & Plant Pathology, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331-2902, USA. Email:; fax: 1-541-737-3407; tel: 1-541-737-5421

W. J. Raupp

The Wheat Genetics Resource Center, 4711 Throckmorton Plant Sciences Center, Department of Plant Pathology, Kansas State University, Manhattan KS 66506-5502 USA. Email:; fax: 1-785-532-5692; tel: 1-785-532-2366


During a Taxonomy Workshop held at the 9th International Wheat Genetics Symposium (2-7 August 1998, Saskatoon, Canada), participants developed a proposal for a Synonymy Tables Project that will address the confusing situation with the taxonomy of the wheats. At the core of the problem are several competing taxonomic concepts that disagree on the circumscription of the genera Triticum and Aegilops and often conflict on the naming and ranking of wild and domesticated wheat taxa. As a result, researchers are unclear as to which taxonomic treatment they should follow and which name for a given species is correct.

Although the ideal solution would be a monographic revision of Triticum organized as a collaborative project endorsed by the wheat research community, such an undertaking is not yet feasible nor could it resolve the immediate problems of wheat taxonomy. Recognizing the need for a more practical first-step approach, the workshop participants proposed the development of an interactive database of Synonymy Tables for access on the USDA GrainGenes internet site, GrainTax ( Researchers using this system will be able to follow their preferred classification as well as find all other modern names by which a particular wheat species is treated.

The Synonymy Tables currently are under construction on the Kansas State University Wheat Genetic Resources Center web site ( or by link from the GrainTax site. Tables for 16 wheat classifications are available now for access. However, users are advised that the Tables are not yet complete with all species names and authorities in their correct, final forms. During the development of the Synonymy Tables, progress reports will appear in the Wheat Information Service (beginning June 1999) and in the Annual Wheat Newsletter. Comments on the project and its progress are invited from the wheat research community either via the GrainTax internet site's mailgroup or Bulletin Board or by written comment to our addresses above. The Synonymy Tables project design and goals also are posted on GrainTax.

Classification Tables

Tables have been constructed for the Triticum treatments of Bowden (1959), Mac Key (1966, 1988), Dorofeev & Migushova (1979), Löve (1984), the Flora of Turkey (1985), Kimber & Sears (1987), and van Slageren (1994). Tables have been constructed for the Aegilops treatments of Zhukovsky (1928), Eig (1929), Kihara (1954), Chennaveeraiah (1960), Hammer (1980), Witcombe (1983), Löve (1984), the Flora of Turkey (1985), and van Slageren (1994). The Triticum treatment of Kimber & Sears also encompasses the earlier treatment of Morris & Sears (1967) on which it is built and the concurrent one of Kimber & Feldman (1987) where several changes were made.

Although not current, the treatments of Zhukovsky, Eig, Kihara, Bowden, and Chennaveeraiah are included for their historical value. These treatments can be frequently encountered in the older literature. In the case of Eig, there are still researchers who follow his classification in whole or in part.

In addition to tables for each individual wheat classification, a set of comparative tables organized by genome will be constructed to follow a given species by name and ranking across the current classifications of Triticum and Aegilops. We also plan to develop a Synonym Table containing illegitimate names (names incorrectly applied according to the International Rules of Botanical Nomenclature (ICBN, Greuter et al. 1994), invalid names (names not effectively published according to the ICBN), and orphan names (names dropped because of changing treatment concepts). Upon completion of the Classification Tables, we will begin constructing links from each species name in a given Classification Table to its corresponding synonyms in other Classification Tables and, when appropriate, to synonyms in the Synonym Table.

Correct Names and Authorities

In a treatment prepared by either a taxonomist or geneticist, names for species and subspecific taxa are not always nomenclaturally correct (i.e., in accordance with nomenclatural rules) due to mistakes or to misunderstandings of the ICBN. Most of the wheat classifications have errors. As one step toward the accurate use of names, we will note and correct errors in the species epithets and authority names in the Classification Tables of those treatments that we have identified as current. The historical classifications of Bowden, Chennaveeraiah, Eig, Kihara, and Zhukovsky will be left in their original versions but with notations of incorrect nomenclature. For all classifications, the spelling and abbreviation of authority names, often inconsistent in wheat classifications, will be brought into uniformity according to the convention established by Brummitt & Powell (1992).