Focus on Science: Exploration in Search of the World’s Highest Flowering Plant

PI: Sébastien Lavergne, Laboratoire d’Ecologie Alpine, CNRS - Université Grenoble Alpes, France

This museomics project aims at understanding the evolutionary history and adaptation of one the highest genus of flowering plants (Lepidostemon). This includes

sequencing the herbarium specimens that were collected by Eric Shipton in his 1938

attempt to the Everest. The highest species (L. everestianus) has never been seen in the

wild since Shipton's attempt. We will be sampling some high-alpine plant groups in the

Himalayas (in collaboration with Chinese botanists), and exploring elevated zones where

historical data suggests we could find something -and this Everest/Lhotse expedition is a

critical part of this effort. The plant groups that we are seeking come from:

  • Primulaceae family, in particular the genus Androsace (any species,

especially the ones from high alpine, where some potentially non-

described species remain)

  • Brassicaceae, in particular the genera Lepidostemon, and its close allies

such as Pycnoplinthopsis, Shangrilaia and Metashangrilaia, and Braya

(this last one in less related though).