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Dioscoreales are a small but systematically and economically significant order of monocotyledons. The most diverse and important member is the yam genus, Dioscorea L., a source of dietary starch at macroeconomic to rural community levels. Other species of Dioscorea provide the chemical basis of corticosteroid drugs and oral contraceptives. Ally families comprise the unusual, largely achlorophyllous (heteromycotrophic) Burmanniaceae and the relatively unspecialised Nartheciaceae. The World Checklist of Dioscoreales lists all validly published names of yams and their allies, providing the source of their publication and indicating which names are currently accepted and which are synonyms, making it a standard nomenclatural reference for further research into this important family.
Rafael Govaerts has worked at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew since 1994. He generates synonymised taxonomic lists for selected families and is has completed all Monocot families. This publication will be the eighth in the World Checklist series of which he is co-author. He is convener for TDWG and has interests in plant conservation.Paul Wilkin has worked in the Lilioid & Alismatid monocot section of the Herbarium at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew since 1993 and is a specialist in the systematics of Dioscoreales (yams and their allies) with experience of the taxa worldwide, but especially in Africa, Madagascar and Thailand. He has published or has in press 31 peer-reviewed papers on the order, and has supervised four postgraduate students working on its systematics and in allied disciplines.Richard Saunders is currently an Associate Professor at The University of Hong Kong, where he has worked since 1992. His research focus is the systematics, phylogenetics and reproductive biology of angiosperms, particularly the Annonaceae, Burmanniaceae and Schisandraceae.