SOURCE: Botanical Research Institute of Texas

June 09, 2005 10:00 ET

Botanical Research Institute of Texas Launches Awareness Campaign to Further Botanical Knowledge About the Art and Science of Life-Preserving Plants

FORT WORTH, TX -- (MARKET WIRE) -- June 9, 2005 -- Few would think that analyzing the composition of plants could be used for anything more than research. At the Botanical Research Institute of Texas (BRIT) they're not only discovering new plant species that could provide us with new medicines, cleanse the air we breathe, and provide us with the food and shelter that all humans need to survive, but they're also helping solve crimes.

Recently, local law enforcement had help from the Institute to shed some light on a sexual assault investigation. BRIT was contacted by law enforcement to identify plant fibers on the victim's and alleged criminal's clothing.

"We determined the species and exact location of the plant found on the victim and the offender, which in turn gave investigators what they needed for a conviction," said Barney Lipscomb, BRIT's Leonhardt Chair of Texas Botany.

But BRIT's main focus goes beyond such intermittent "CSI"-type duties as they concentrate daily on the preservation of botanical knowledge through education, research, scientific publications and collections.

"BRIT provides a significant service to the scientific and research communities," said Mr. Lipscomb. "Without BRIT, researchers and scientists wouldn't be able to access the necessary resources to conduct life-saving and life-sustaining research."

In launching a Texas-wide program about how plants help people, this world-renowned institute will seek to increase membership in BRIT to advance its mission: to deepen human understanding of plant life on our planet. Conservation-minded citizens throughout the state will receive more details by mail soon, or interested people can visit the BRIT Web site at www.brit.org. Individuals joining at the $1,000 level and above will receive a signed print of an original work by Fort Worth artist Jane Molpus, who is well known for her watercolors of wildflowers.

BRIT is a nonprofit international botanical resource center that is open to the public. With a collection of approximately one million dried plant specimens representing most of the earth's plant families, BRIT has one of the largest herbariums in the United States. It has the largest independent herbarium in the Southwest and one of the world's best collections of Texas plant specimens. Since it's founding in 1991, BRIT has expanded its botanical library with more than 75,000 volumes of books, periodicals, and journals from more than 90 countries.

BRIT conducts plant research and publishes journals and books on botany. At the moment, the institute is leading an international research team in the Andes-Amazon region of southeastern Peru that is developing and testing new tools and integrative scientific methods to serve as a model for biodiversity science, education, and conservation research throughout the world.

For more information about BRIT's conservation and research efforts visit www.brit.org or contact Cleve Lancaster at (817) 332-6657.

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