Background and Aims
Floral symmetry presents two main states in angiosperms, namely polysymmetry and monosymmetry. Monosymmetry is thought to have evolved several times independently from polysymmetry, possibly in co-adaptation with specialized pollinators. Monosymmetry commonly refers to the perianth, even though associated androecium modifications have been reported. The evolution of perianth symmetry is examined with respect to traits of flower architecture in the Ranunculales, the sister group to all other eudicots, which present a large diversity of floral forms.
Characters considered were perianth merism, calyx, corolla and androecium symmetry, number of stamens and spurs. Character evolution was optimized on a composite phylogenetic tree of Ranunculales using maximum parsimony.
The ancestral state for merism could not be inferred because the basalmost Eupteleaceae lack a perianth and have a variable number of stamens. The Papaveraceae are dimerous, and the five other families share a common trimerous ancestor. Shifts from trimery to dimery (or reverse) are observed. Pentamery evolved in Ranunculaceae. Ranunculales except Eupteleaceae, present a polysymmetric ancestral state. Monosymmetry evolved once within Papaveraceae, Ranunculaceae and Menispermaceae (female flowers only). Oligandry is the ancestral state for all Ranunculales, and polyandry evolved several times independently, in Papaveraceae, Menispermaceae, Berberidaceae and Ranunculaceae, with two reversions to oligandry in the latter. The ancestral state for androecium symmetry is ambiguous for the Ranunculales, while polysymmetry evolved immediately after the divergence of Eupteleaceae. A disymmetric androecium evolved in Papaveraceae. The ancestral state for spurs is none. Multiple spurs evolved in Papaveraceae, Berberidaceae and Ranunculaceae, and single spurs occur in Papaveraceae and Ranunculaceae.
The evolution of symmetry appears disconnected from changes in merism and stamen number, although monosymmetry never evolved in the context of an open ground plan. In bisexual species, monosymmetry evolved coincidently with single spurs, allowing us to propose an evolutionary scenario for Papaveraceae.
Floral symmetry; Ranunculales; perianth; androecium; stamen; spur; merism; evo-devo
Members of the euasterid angiosperm family Solanaceae have been characterized as remarkably diverse in terms of flower morphology and pollinator type. In order to test the relative contribution of phylogeny to the pattern of distribution of floral characters related to pollination, flower form and pollinators have been mapped onto a molecular phylogeny of the family. Bilateral flower symmetry (zygomorphy) is prevalent in the basal grades of the family, and more derived clades have flowers that are largely radially symmetric, with some parallel evolution of floral bilateralism. Pollinator types (‘syndromes’) are extremely homoplastic in the family, but members of subfamily Solanoideae are exceptional in being largely bee pollinated. Pollinator relationships in those genera where they have been investigated more fully are not as specific as flower morphology and the classical pollinator syndrome models might suggest, and more detailed studies in some particularly variable genera, such as Iochroma and Nicotiana, are key to understanding the role of pollinators in floral evolution and adaptive radiation in the family. More studies of pollinators in the field are a priority.
adaptive radiation; flower morphology; phylogeny; Solanaceae; pollination syndrome; homoplasy
Malpighiaceae possess flowers with a unique bilateral symmetry (zygomorphy), which is a hypothesized adaptation associated with specialization on neotropical oil bee pollinators. Gene expression of two representatives of the CYC2 lineage of floral symmetry TCP genes, CYC2A and CYC2B, demarcate the adaxial (dorsal) region of the flower in the characteristic zygomorphic flowers of most Malpighiaceae. Several clades within the family, however, have independently lost their specialized oil bee pollinators and reverted to radial flowers (actinomorphy) like their ancestors. Here, we investigate CYC2 expression associated with four independent reversals to actinomorphy. We demonstrate that these reversals are always associated with alteration of the highly conserved CYC2 expression pattern observed in most New World (NW) Malpighiaceae. In NW Lasiocarpus and Old World (OW) Microsteria, the expression of CYC2-like genes has expanded to include the ventral region of the corolla. Thus, the pattern of gene expression in these species has become radialized, which is comparable to what has been reported in the radial flowered legume clade Cadia. In striking contrast, in NW Psychopterys and OW Sphedamnocarpus, CYC2-like expression is entirely absent or at barely detectable levels. This is more similar to the pattern of CYC2 expression observed in radial flowered Arabidopsis. These results collectively indicate that, regardless of geographic distribution, reversals to similar floral phenotypes in this large tropical angiosperm clade have evolved via different genetic changes from an otherwise highly conserved developmental program.
CYC2-like genes; development; floral symmetry; Malpighiaceae; reversals
Background and Aims
Annonaceae are one of the largest families of Magnoliales. This study investigates the comparative floral development of 15 species to understand the basis for evolutionary changes in the perianth, androecium and carpels and to provide additional characters for phylogenetic investigation.
Floral ontogeny of 15 species from 12 genera is examined and described using scanning electron microscopy.
Initiation of the three perianth whorls is either helical or unidirectional. Merism is mostly trimerous, occasionally tetramerous and the members of the inner perianth whorl may be missing or are in double position. The androecium and the gynoecium were found to be variable in organ numbers (from highly polymerous to a fixed number, six in the androecium and one or two in the gynoecium). Initiation of the androecium starts invariably with three pairs of stamen primordia along the sides of the hexagonal floral apex. Although inner staminodes were not observed, they were reported in other genera and other families of Magnoliales, except Magnoliaceae and Myristicaceae. Initiation of further organs is centripetal. Androecia with relatively low stamen numbers have a whorled phyllotaxis throughout, while phyllotaxis becomes irregular with higher stamen numbers. The limits between stamens and carpels are unstable and carpels continue the sequence of stamens with a similar variability.
It was found that merism of flowers is often variable in some species with fluctuations between trimery and tetramery. Doubling of inner perianth parts is caused by (unequal) splitting of primordia, contrary to the androecium, and is independent of changes of merism. Derived features, such as a variable merism, absence of the inner perianth and inner staminodes, fixed numbers of stamen and carpels, and capitate or elongate styles are distributed in different clades and evolved independently. The evolution of the androecium is discussed in the context of basal angiosperms: paired outer stamens are the consequence of the transition between the larger perianth parts and much smaller stamens, and not the result of splitting. An increase in stamen number is correlated with their smaller size at initiation, while limits between stamens and carpels are unclear with easy transitions of one organ type into another in some genera, or the complete replacement of carpels by stamens in unisexual flowers.
Annonaceae; basal angiosperms; Magnoliales; androecium; carpel; doubling; floral ontogeny; merism; perianth; reduction; secondary increase
ECE-CYC2 clade genes known in patterning floral dorsoventral asymmetry (zygomorphy) in Antirrhinum majus are conserved in the dorsal identity function including arresting the dorsal stamen. However, it remains uncertain whether the same mechanism underlies abortion of the ventral stamens, an important morphological trait related to evolution and diversification of zygomorphy in Lamiales sensu lato, a major clade of predominantly zygomorphically flowered angiosperms. Opithandra (Gesneriaceae) is of particular interests in addressing this question as it is in the base of Lamiales s.l., an early representative of this type zygomorphy.
We investigated the expression patterns of four ECE-CYC2 clade genes and two putative target cyclinD3 genes in Opithandra using RNA in situ hybridization and RT-PCR. OpdCYC gene expressions were correlated with abortion of both dorsal and ventral stamens in Opithandra, strengthened by the negatively correlated expression of their putative target OpdcyclinD3 genes. The complement of OpdcyclinD3 to OpdCYC expressions further indicated that OpdCYC expressions were related to the dorsal and ventral stamen abortion through negative effects on OpdcyclinD3 genes.
These results suggest that ECE-CYC2 clade TCP genes are not only functionally conserved in the dorsal stamen repression, but also involved in arresting ventral stamens, a genetic mechanism underlying the establishment of zygomorphy with abortion of both the dorsal and ventral stamens evolved in angiosperms, especially within Lamiales s.l.
Background and Aims
Ranunculaceae presents both ancestral and derived floral traits for eudicots, and as such is of potential interest to understand key steps involved in the evolution of zygomorphy in eudicots. Zygomorphy evolved once in Ranunculaceae, in the speciose and derived tribe Delphinieae. This tribe consists of two genera (Aconitum and Delphinium s.l.) comprising more than one-quarter of the species of the family. In this paper, the establishment of zygomorphy during development was investigated to cast light on the origin and evolution of this morphological novelty.
The floral developmental sequence of six species of Ranunculaceae, three actinomorphic (Nigella damascena, Aquilegia alpina and Clematis recta) and three zygomorphic (Aconitum napellus, Delphinium staphisagria and D. grandiflorum), was compared. A developmental model was elaborated to break down the successive acquisitions of floral organ identities on the ontogenic spiral (all the species studied except Aquilegia have a spiral phyllotaxis), giving clues to understanding this complex morphogenesis from an evo-devo point of view. In addition, the evolution of symmetry in Ranunculaceae was examined in conjunction with other traits of flowers and with ecological factors.
In the species studied, zygomorphy is established after organogenesis is completed, and is late, compared with other zygomorphic eudicot species. Zygomorphy occurs in flowers characterized by a fixed merism and a partially reduced and transformed corolla.
It is suggested that shifts in expression of genes controlling the merism, as well as floral symmetry and organ identity, have played a critical role in the evolution of zygomorphy in Delphinieae, while the presence of pollinators able to exploit the peculiar morphology of the flower has been a key factor for the maintenance and diversification of this trait.
Delphinieae; development; evolution; evo-devo; nectar spurs; ontogenic spiral; Ranunculaceae; zygomorphy
Flower bilateral symmetry (zygomorphy) has evolved multiple times independently across angiosperms and is correlated with increased pollinator specialization and speciation rates. Functional and expression analyses in distantly related core eudicots and monocots implicate independent recruitment of class II TCP genes in the evolution of flower bilateral symmetry. Furthermore, available evidence suggests that monocot flower bilateral symmetry might also have evolved through changes in B-class homeotic MADS-box gene function.
In order to test the non-exclusive hypotheses that changes in TCP and B-class gene developmental function underlie flower symmetry evolution in the monocot family Commelinaceae, we compared expression patterns of teosinte branched1 (TB1)-like, DEFICIENS (DEF)-like, and GLOBOSA (GLO)-like genes in morphologically distinct bilaterally symmetrical flowers of Commelina communis and Commelina dianthifolia, and radially symmetrical flowers of Tradescantia pallida.
Expression data demonstrate that TB1-like genes are asymmetrically expressed in tepals of bilaterally symmetrical Commelina, but not radially symmetrical Tradescantia, flowers. Furthermore, DEF-like genes are expressed in showy inner tepals, staminodes and stamens of all three species, but not in the distinct outer tepal-like ventral inner tepals of C. communis.
Together with other studies, these data suggest parallel recruitment of TB1-like genes in the independent evolution of flower bilateral symmetry at early stages of Commelina flower development, and the later stage homeotic transformation of C. communis inner tepals into outer tepals through the loss of DEF-like gene expression.
B class genes; Commelinaceae; CYCLOIDEA; homeotic change; monocots; tepals; teosinte branched1
The repeated origin of similar phenotypes is invaluable for studying the underlying genetics of adaptive traits; molecular evidence, however, is lacking for most examples of such similarity. The floral morphology of neotropical Malpighiaceae is distinctive and highly conserved, especially with regard to symmetry, and is thought to result from specialization on oil-bee pollinators. We recently demonstrated that CYCLOIDEA2–like genes (CYC2A and CYC2B) are associated with the development of the stereotypical floral zygomorphy that is critical to this plant–pollinator mutualism. Here, we build on this developmental framework to characterize floral symmetry in three clades of Malpighiaceae that have independently lost their oil bee association and experienced parallel shifts in their floral morphology, especially in regard to symmetry. We show that in each case these species exhibit a loss of CYC2B function, and a strikingly similar shift in the expression of CYC2A that is coincident with their shift in floral symmetry. These results indicate that similar floral phenotypes in this large angiosperm clade have evolved via parallel genetic changes from an otherwise highly conserved developmental program.
Background and Aims
Homeotic transitions are usually dismissed by population geneticists as credible modes of evolution due to their assumed negative impact on fitness. However, several lines of evidence suggest that such changes in organ identity have played an important role during the origin and subsequent evolution of the angiosperm flower. Better understanding of the performance of wild populations of floral homeotic varieties should help to clarify the evolutionary potential of homeotic mutants. Wild populations of plants with changes in floral symmetry, or with reproductive organs replacing perianth organs or sepals replacing petals have already been documented. However, although double-flowered varieties are quite popular as ornamental and garden plants, they are rarely found in the wild and, if they are, usually occur only as rare mutant individuals, probably because of their low fitness relative to the wild-type. We therefore investigated a double-flowered variety of lesser periwinkle, Vinca minor flore pleno (fl. pl.), that is reported to have existed in the wild for at least 160 years. To assess the merits of this plant as a new model system for investigations on the evolutionary potential of double-flowered varieties we explored the morphological details and distribution of the mutant phenotype.
The floral morphology of the double-flowered variety and of a nearby population of wild-type plants was investigated by means of visual inspection and light microscopy of flowers, the latter involving dissected or sectioned floral organs.
The double-flowered variety was found in several patches covering dozens of square metres in a forest within the city limits of Jena (Germany). It appears to produce fewer flowers than the wild-type, and its flowers are purple rather than blue. Most sepals in the first floral whorl resemble those in the wild-type, although occasionally one sepal is broadened and twisted. The structure of second-whorl petals is very similar to that of the wild-type, but their number per flower is more variable. The double-flowered character is due to partial or complete transformation of stamens in the third whorl into petaloid organs. Occasionally, ‘flowers within flowers’ also develop on elongated pedicels in the double-flowered variety.
The flowers of V. minor fl. pl. show meristic as well as homeotic changes, and occasionally other developmental abnormalities such as mis-shaped sepals or loss of floral determinacy. V. minor fl. pl. thus adds to a growing list of natural floral homeotic varieties that have established persistent populations in the wild. Our case study documents that even mutant varieties that have reproductive organs partially transformed into perianth organs can persist in the wild for centuries. This finding makes it at least conceivable that even double-flowered varieties have the potential to establish new evolutionary lineages, and hence may contribute to macroevolutionary transitions and cladogenesis.
Double-flowered variety; homeosis; lesser periwinkle; macroevolution; Vinca minor fl. pl
Background and Aims
Studies of evolutionary diversification in the basal eudicot family Papaveraceae, such as the transition from actinomorphy to zygomorphy, are hampered by the lack of comparative functional studies. So far, gene silencing methods are only available in the actinomorphic species Eschscholzia californica and Papaver somniferum. This study addresses the amenability of Cysticapnos vesicaria, a derived fumitory with zygomorphic flowers, to virus-induced gene silencing (VIGS), and describes vegetative and reproductive traits in this species.
VIGS-mediated downregulation of the C. vesicaria PHYTOENE DESATURASE gene (CvPDS) and of the FLORICAULA gene CvFLO was carried out using Agrobacterium tumefaciens transfer of Tobacco rattle virus (TRV)-based vectors. Wild-type and vector-treated plants were characterized using reverse transcription–PCR (RT–PCR), in situ hybridization, and macroscopic and scanning electron microscopic imaging.
Cysticapnos vesicaria germinates rapidly, can be grown at high density, has a short life cycle and is self-compatible. Inoculation of C. vesicaria with a CvPDS-VIGS vector resulted in strong photobleaching of green parts and reduction of endogenous CvPDS transcript levels. Gene silencing persisted during inflorescence development until fruit set. Inoculation of plants with CvFLO-VIGS affected floral phyllotaxis, symmetry and floral organ identities.
The high penetrance, severity and stability of pTRV-mediated silencing, including the induction of meristem-related phenotypes, make C. vesicaria a very promising new focus species for evolutionary–developmental (evo–devo) studies in the Papaveraceae. This now enables comparative studies of flower symmetry, inflorescence determinacy and other traits that diversified in the Papaveraceae.
Agrobacterium tumefaciens; basal eudicots; Cysticapnos vesicaria; FLORICAULA; Papaveraceae; PHYTOENE DESATURASE; Ranunculales; Tobacco rattle virus; VIGS, zygomorphy
Background and Aims
Synorganisation of floral organs, an important means in angiosperm flower evolution, is mostly realized by congenital or post-genital organ fusion. Intimate synorganisation of many floral organs without fusion, as present in Geranium robertianum, is poorly known and needs to be studied. Obdiplostemony, the seemingly reversed position of two stamen whorls, widely distributed in core eudicots, has been the subject of much attention, but there is confusion in the literature. Obdiplostemony occurs in Geranium and whether and how it is involved in this synorganisation is explored here.
Floral development and architecture were studied with light microscopy based on microtome section series and with scanning electron microscopy.
Intimate synorganisation of floral organs is effected by the formation of five separate nectar canals for the proboscis of pollinators. Each nectar canal is formed by six adjacent organs from four organ whorls. In addition, the sepals are hooked together by the formation of longitudinal ribs and grooves, and provide a firm scaffold for the canals. Obdiplostemony provides a guide rail within each canal formed by the flanks of the antepetalous stamen filaments.
Intimate synorganisation in flowers can be realized without any fusion, and obdiplostemony may play a role in this synorganisation.
Angiosperms; diplostemony; floral architecture; floral development; floral morphology; fusion; Geraniaceae; Geranium robertianum; obdiplostemony; synorganisation
Background and Aims
Molecular phylogenies have suggested a new circumscription for Fabales to include Leguminosae, Quillajaceae, Surianaceae and Polygalaceae. However, recent attempts to reconstruct the interfamilial relationships of the order have resulted in several alternative hypotheses, including a sister relationship between Quillajaceae and Surianaceae, the two species-poor families of Fabales. Here, floral morphology and ontogeny of these two families are investigated to explore evidence of a potential relationship between them. Floral traits are discussed with respect to early radiation in the order.
Floral buds of representatives of Quillajaceae and Surianaceae were dissected and observed using light microscopy and scanning electron microscopy.
Quillajaceae and Surianaceae possess some common traits, such as inflorescence morphology and perianth initiation, but development and organization of their reproductive whorls differ. In Quillaja, initiation of the diplostemonous androecium is unidirectional, overlapping with the petal primordia. In contrast, Suriana is obdiplostemonous, and floral organ initiation is simultaneous. Independent initiation of five carpels is common to both Quillaja and Suriana, but subsequent development differs; the antesepalous carpels of Quillaja become fused proximally and exhibit two rows of ovules, and in Suriana the gynoecium is apocarpous, gynobasic, with antepetalous biovulate carpels.
Differences in the reproductive development and organization of Quillajaceae and Surianaceae cast doubt on their potential sister relationship. Instead, Quillaja resembles Leguminosae in some floral traits, a hypothesis not suggested by molecular-based phylogenies. Despite implicit associations of zygomorphy with species-rich clades and actinomorphy with species-poor families in Fabales, this correlation sometimes fails due to high variation in floral symmetry. Studies considering specific derived clades and reproductive biology could address more precise hypotheses of key innovation and differential diversification in the order.
Fabales; Leguminosae; eurosids I; floral ontogeny; Polygalaceae; Quillajaceae; Surianaceae; floral symmetry
The development of comparative phylogenetic methods has provided a powerful toolkit for addressing adaptive hypotheses, and researchers have begun to apply these methods to test the role of pollinators in floral evolution and diversification. One approach is to reconstruct the history of both floral traits and pollination systems to determine if floral trait change is spurred by shifts in pollinators. Looking across multiple shifts, it is also possible to test for significant correlations between floral evolution and pollinators using parsimony, likelihood and Bayesian methods for discrete characters or using statistical comparative methods for continuous characters. Evolutionary shifts in pollinators and floral traits may cause changes in diversification rates, and new methods are available for simultaneously studying character evolution and diversification rates. Relatively few studies have yet applied formal comparative methods to understanding how pollinators affect floral evolution across the phylogeny, and fruitful directions for future applications are discussed.
ancestral state reconstruction; diversification; floral evolution; PGLS; phylogenetics; pollination system; stochastic mapping; transition rate
Background and Aims
Based on molecular phylogenetic studies, the unigeneric family Eupteleaceae has a prominent phylogenetic position at or near the base of Ranunculales, which, in turn, appear at the base of eudicots. The aim of the present paper is to reveal developmental features of the flowers and to put the genus in a morphological context with other basal eudicots.
Flowers in all developmental stages of Euptelea pleiosperma were collected in the wild at intervals of 7–10 d in the critical stages and studied with a scanning electron microscope.
Remnants of a perianth are lacking throughout flower development. Floral symmetry changes from monosymmetric to asymmetric to disymmetric during development. Asymmetry is expressed in that the sequence of stamen initiation is from the centre to both lateral sides on the adaxial side of the flower but starting from one lateral side and proceeding to the other on the abaxial side. Despite the pronounced floral disymmetry, a dimerous pattern of floral organs was not found. The carpel primordia arise between the already large stamens and alternate with them. Stamens and carpels each form a somewhat irregular whorl. The carpels are ascidiate from the beginning. The stigma differentiates as two crests along the ventral slit of the ovary. The few lateral ovules alternate with each other.
Although the flowers have some unusual autapomorphies (wind pollination, lack of a perianth, pronounced disymmetry of the floral base, long connective protrusion, long temporal gap between androecium and gynoecium initiation, small space for carpel initiation), they show some plesiomorphies at the level of basal eudicots (free carpels, basifixed anthers, whorled phyllotaxis), and thus fit well in Ranunculales.
Basal eudicots; Euptelea; Eupteleaceae; floral development; floral phyllotaxis; floral symmetry; Ranunculales; systematics
The genetic basis of floral symmetry is a topic of great interest because of its effect on pollinator behavior and, consequently, plant diversification. The Asteraceae, which is the largest family of flowering plants, is an ideal system in which to study this trait, as many species within the family exhibit a compound inflorescence containing both bilaterally symmetric (i.e., zygomorphic) and radially symmetric (i.e., actinomorphic) florets. In sunflower and related species, the inflorescence is composed of a single whorl of ray florets surrounding multiple whorls of disc florets. We show that in double-flowered (dbl) sunflower mutants (in which disc florets develop bilateral symmetry), such as those captured by Vincent van Gogh in his famous nineteenth-century sunflower paintings, an insertion into the promoter region of a CYCLOIDEA (CYC)-like gene (HaCYC2c) that is normally expressed specifically in WT rays is instead expressed throughout the inflorescence, presumably resulting in the observed loss of actinomorphy. This same gene is mutated in two independent tubular-rayed (tub) mutants, though these mutations involve apparently recent transposon insertions, resulting in little or no expression and radialization of the normally zygomorphic ray florets. Interestingly, a phylogenetic analysis of CYC-like genes from across the family suggests that different paralogs of this fascinating gene family have been independently recruited to specify zygomorphy in different species within the Asteraceae.
The evolution of flower shape and symmetry is of great interest to plant biologists, because it can affect pollinator behavior. Species in the flowering plant family Asteraceae exhibit flower heads that can contain both bilaterally and radially symmetric flowers. In this study, we identify a CYCLOIDEA-like gene that is responsible for determining flower symmetry in sunflower. Mis-expression of this gene causes a double-flowered phenotype, similar to those captured in Vincent van Gogh's famous nineteenth-century paintings, whereas loss of gene function causes radialization of the normally bilaterally symmetric ray florets. Interestingly, this gene is not orthologous to the CYCLOIDEA-like gene responsible for floral symmetry in other members of the Asteraceae, providing evidence of the parallel recruitment of different members of the same gene family for the same function.
Although the flower is the central feature of the angiosperms, little is known of its origin and subsequent diversification. The ABC model has long been the unifying paradigm for floral developmental genetics, but it is based on phylogenetically derived eudicot models. Synergistic research involving phylogenetics, classical developmental studies, genomics and developmental genetics has afforded valuable new insights into floral evolution in general, and the early flower in particular.
Scope and Conclusions
Genomic studies indicate that basal angiosperms, and by inference the earliest angiosperms, had a rich tool kit of floral genes. Homologues of the ABCE floral organ identity genes are also present in basal angiosperm lineages; however, C-, E- and particularly B-function genes are more broadly expressed in basal lineages. There is no single model of floral organ identity that applies to all angiosperms; there are multiple models that apply depending on the phylogenetic position and floral structure of the group in question. The classic ABC (or ABCE) model may work well for most eudicots. However, modifications are needed for basal eudicots and, the focus of this paper, basal angiosperms. We offer ‘fading borders’ as a testable hypothesis for the basal-most angiosperms and, by inference, perhaps some of the earliest (now extinct) angiosperms.
ABC model; floral identity genes; perianth evolution; basal angiosperms; fading borders model
Background and Aims
The TCP family is an ancient group of plant developmental transcription factors that regulate cell division in vegetative and reproductive structures and are essential in the establishment of flower zygomorphy. In-depth research on eudicot TCPs has documented their evolutionary and developmental role. This has not happened to the same extent in monocots, although zygomorphy has been critical for the diversification of Orchidaceae and Poaceae, the largest families of this group. Investigating the evolution and function of TCP-like genes in a wider group of monocots requires a detailed phylogenetic analysis of all available sequence information and a system that facilitates comparing genetic and functional information.
The phylogenetic relationships of TCP-like genes in monocots were investigated by analysing sequences from the genomes of Zea mays, Brachypodium distachyon, Oryza sativa and Sorghum bicolor, as well as EST data from several other monocot species.
All available monocot TCP-like sequences are associated in 20 major groups with an average identity ≥64 % and most correspond to well-supported clades of the phylogeny. Their sequence motifs and relationships of orthology were documented and it was found that 67 % of the TCP-like genes of Sorghum, Oryza, Zea and Brachypodium are in microsyntenic regions. This analysis suggests that two rounds of whole genome duplication drove the expansion of TCP-like genes in these species.
A system of classification is proposed where putative or recognized monocot TCP-like genes are assigned to a specific clade of PCF-, CIN- or CYC/tb1-like genes. Specific biases in sequence data of this family that must be tackled when studying its molecular evolution and phylogeny are documented. Finally, the significant retention of duplicated TCP genes from Zea mays is considered in the context of balanced gene drive.
TCP; tb1; CYCLOIDEA; PCF1; Zea mays; Oryza sativa; Brachypodium distachyon; Sorghum bicolor; gene family; monocot; whole genome duplication
Background and Aims
Anaxagorea is the phylogenetically basalmost genus in the large tropical Annonaceae (custard apple family) of Magnoliales, but its floral structure is unknown in many respects. The aim of this study is to analyse evolutionarily interesting floral features in comparison with other genera of the Annonaceae and the sister family Eupomatiaceae.
Live flowers of Anaxagorea crassipetala were examined in the field with vital staining, liquid-fixed material was studied with scanning electron microscopy, and microtome section series were studied with light microscopy. In addition, herbarium material of two other Anaxagorea species was cursorily studied with the dissecting microscope.
Floral phyllotaxis in Anaxagorea is regularly whorled (with complex whorls) as in all other Annonaceae with a low or medium number of floral organs studied so far (in those with numerous stamens and carpels, phyllotaxis becoming irregular in the androecium and gynoecium). The carpels are completely plicate as in almost all other Annonaceae. In these features Anaxagorea differs sharply from the sister family Eupomatiaceae, which has spiral floral phyllotaxis and ascidiate carpels. Flat stamens and the presence of inner staminodes differ from most other Annonaceae and may be plesiomorphic in Anaxagorea. However, the inner staminodes appear to be non-secretory in most Anaxagorea species, which differs from inner staminodes in other families of Magnoliales (Eupomatiaceae, Degeneriacae, Himantandraceae), which are secretory.
Floral phyllotaxis in Anaxagorea shows that there is no signature of a basal spiral pattern in Annonaceae and that complex whorls are an apomorphy not just for a part of the family but for the family in its entirety, and irregular phyllotaxis is derived. This and the presence of completely plicate carpels in Anaxagorea makes the family homogeneous and distinguishes it from the closest relatives in Magnoliales.
Anaxagorea; Annonaceae; Magnoliales; Magnoliidae; basal angiosperms; carpels; complex whorls; floral phyllotaxis; inner staminodes; stamens; tepals
Background and Aims
Eriocaulaceae (Poales) is currently divided in two subfamilies: Eriocauloideae, which comprises two genera and Paepalanthoideae, with nine genera. The floral anatomy of Actinocephalus polyanthus, Leiothrix fluitans, Paepalanthus chlorocephalus, P. flaccidus and Rondonanthus roraimae was studied here. The flowers of these species of Paepalanthoideae are unisexual, and form capitulum-type inflorescences. Staminate and pistillate flowers are randomly distributed in the capitulum and develop centripetally. This work aims to establish a floral nomenclature for the Eriocaulaceae to provide more information about the taxonomy and phylogeny of the family.
Light microscopy, scanning electron microscopy and chemical tests were used to investigate the floral structures.
Staminate and pistillate flowers are trimerous (except in P. flaccidus, which presents dimerous flowers), and the perianth of all species is differentiated into sepals and petals. Staminate flowers present an androecium with scale-like staminodes (not in R. roraimae) and fertile stamens, and nectariferous pistillodes. Pistillate flowers present scale-like staminodes (except for R. roraimae, which presents elongated and vascularized staminodes), and a gynoecium with a hollow style, ramified in stigmatic and nectariferous portions.
The scale-like staminodes present in the species of Paepalanthoideae indicate a probable reduction of the outer whorl of stamens present in species of Eriocauloideae. Among the Paepalanthoideae genera, Rondonanthus, which is probably basal, shows vascularized staminodes in their pistillate flowers. The occurrence of nectariferous pistillodes in staminate flowers and that of nectariferous portions of the style in pistillate flowers of Paepalanthoideae are emphasized as nectariferous structures in Eriocaulaceae.
Eriocaulaceae; Paepalanthoideae; nectariferous structures; staminodes; staminate flowers; pistillate flowers; floral anatomy; monocotyledons; Poales
Natural selection is thought to have shaped the evolution of floral scent; however, unlike other floral characters, we have a rudimentary knowledge of how phenotypic selection acts on scent. We found that floral scent was under stronger selection than corolla traits such as flower size and flower color in weakly scented Penstemon digitalis. Our results suggest that to understand evolution in floral phenotypes, including scent in floral selection, studies are crucial. For P. digitalis, linalool was the direct target of selection in the scent bouquet. Therefore, we determined the enantiomeric configuration of linalool because interacting insects may perceive the enantiomers differentially. We found that P. digitalis produces only (S)-(+)-linalool and, more interestingly, it is also taken up into the nectar. Because the nectar is scented and flavored with (S)-(+)-linalool, it may be an important cue for pollinators visiting P. digitalis flowers.
corolla color; floral scent; flower size; linalool; phenotypic selection; Penstemon digitalis; pollination
Background and Aims
Pollinator-mediated selection and evolution of floral traits have long fascinated evolutionary ecologists. No other plant family shows as wide a range of pollinator-linked floral forms as Orchidaceae. In spite of the large size of this model family and a long history of orchid pollination biology, the identity and specificity of most orchid pollinators remains inadequately studied, especially in the tropics where the family has undergone extensive diversification. Angraecum (Vandeae, Epidendroideae), a large genus of tropical Old World orchids renowned for their floral morphology specialized for hawkmoth pollination, has been a model system since the time of Darwin.
The pollination biology of A. cadetii, an endemic species of the islands of Mauritius and Reunion (Mascarene Islands, Indian Ocean) displaying atypical flowers for the genus (white and medium-size, but short-spurred) was investigated. Natural pollinators were observed by means of hard-disk camcorders. Pollinator-linked floral traits, namely spur length, nectar volume and concentration and scent production were also investigated. Pollinator efficiency (pollen removal and deposition) and reproductive success (fruit set) were quantified in natural field conditions weekly during the 2003, 2004 and 2005 flowering seasons (January to March).
Angraecum cadetii is self-compatible but requires a pollinator to achieve fruit set. Only one pollinator species was observed, an undescribed species of raspy cricket (Gryllacrididae, Orthoptera). These crickets, which are nocturnal foragers, reached flowers by climbing up leaves of the orchid or jumping across from neighbouring plants and probed the most ‘fresh-looking’ flowers on each plant. Visits to flowers were relatively long (if compared with the behaviour of birds or hawkmoths), averaging 16·5 s with a maximum of 41·0 s. At the study site of La Plaine des Palmistes (Pandanus forest), 46·5 % of flowers had pollen removed and 27·5 % had pollinia deposited on stigmas. The proportion of flowers that set fruit ranged from 11·9 % to 43·4 %, depending of the sites sampled across the island.
Although orthopterans are well known for herbivory, this represents the first clearly supported case of orthopteran-mediated pollination in flowering plants.
Angraecum; Mascarene Archipelago; oceanic islands; Orchidaceae; Orthoptera; plant–pollinator interactions; pollinator shifts
We present a detailed comparative ontogenetic analysis of pseudanthia of representatives of all three subtribes of Euphorbieae (Euphorbiinae, Neoguillauminiinae, Anthosteminae) in order to clarify their homologies and interpretation. The cyathium of Euphorbia and its allies (subtribe Euphorbiinae) closely resembles a bisexual flower but is traditionally interpreted as an inflorescence bearing clusters of highly reduced male flowers surrounding a single terminal female flower. Previously unreported characters are (1) male flowers formed one above the other in the male inflorescences of some Euphorbiinae, (2) late-developing perianthlike structures in some male flowers of Neoguillauminia cleopatra, (3) evidence for a bracteate origin of the female perianth in Anthosteminae and Neoguillauminiinae, and (4) spatiotemporally independent formation of abscission zone and perianth. Indistinct boundaries between inflorescence, flower, and floral organs demonstrate that defining the cyathium neither as an inflorescence nor as a flower is entirely satisfactory and indicate a “hybrid” flower/inflorescence nature of the cyathium. Based on our current knowledge and the existing phylogenetic context, it is most parsimonious to suggest that the cyathium evolved from a determinate thyrse with a terminal female flower surrounded by dichasial male partial inflorescences. We speculate that the cyathium was formed because of strong condensation and possible overlap between expression zones of regulatory genes.
cyathium; Euphorbia; Euphorbiaceae; Euphorbieae; flower; Malpighiales; ontogeny; pseudanthium
Background and Aims
Sexually deceptive orchids achieve cross-pollination by mimicking the mating signals of female insects, generally hymenopterans. This pollination mechanism is often highly specific as it is based primarily on the mimicry of mating signals, especially the female sex pheromones of the targeted pollinator. Like many deceptive orchids, the Mediterranean species Ophrys arachnitiformis shows high levels of floral trait variation, especially in the colour of the perianth, which is either green or white/pinkinsh within populations. The adaptive significance of perianth colour polymorphism and its influence on pollinator visitation rates in sexually deceptive orchids remain obscure.
The relative importance of floral scent versus perianth colour in pollinator attraction in this orchid pollinator mimicry system was evaluated by performing floral scent analyses by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) and behavioural bioassays with the pollinators under natural conditions were performed.
The relative and absolute amounts of behaviourally active compounds are identical in the two colour morphs of O. arachnitiformis. Neither presence/absence nor the colour of the perianth (green versus white) influence attractiveness of the flowers to Colletes cunicularius males, the main pollinator of O. arachnitiformis.
Chemical signals alone can mediate the interactions in highly specialized mimicry systems. Floral colour polymorphism in O. arachnitiformis is not subjected to selection imposed by C. cunicularius males, and an interplay between different non-adaptive processes may be responsible for the maintenance of floral colour polymorphism both within and among populations.
Colletes cunicularius; floral odour; floral colour polymorphism; mimicry; Ophrys arachnitiformis; pollination by sexual deception; pollinator attraction
The flower-like reproductive structure of Euphorbia s.l. (Euphorbiaceae) is widely believed to have evolved from an inflorescence, and is therefore interpreted as a special type of pseudanthium, termed a cyathium. However, fuzzy morphological boundaries between the inflorescence, individual flowers, and organs have fuelled the suggestion that the cyathium does not merely superficially resemble a flower but could actually share developmental genetic pathways with a conventional flower. To test this hypothesis, immunolocalizations of FLORICAULA/LEAFY (LFY), a protein associated with floral identity in many angiosperm species, were performed in developing cyathia of different species of Euphorbia. Expression of the LFY protein was found not only in individual floral primordia (as predicted from results in the model organisms Arabidopsis and Anthirrhinum), but also in the cyathium primordium and in the primordia of partial male inflorescences. These results provide further evidence that the evolution of floral traits in pseudanthial inflorescences often involves expression of floral development genes in the inflorescence apex. This finding blurs the conventional rigid distinction between flowers and inflorescences.
Cyathium; Euphorbia; Euphorbiaceae; FLORICAULA/LEAFY; flower; inflorescence; Malpighiales; pseudanthium
Perennial woodland herbs in the genus Thalictrum exhibit high diversity of floral morphology, including four breeding and two pollination systems. Their phylogenetic position, in the early-diverging eudicots, makes them especially suitable for exploring the evolution of floral traits and the fate of gene paralogs that may have shaped the radiation of the eudicots. A current limitation in evolution of plant development studies is the lack of genetic tools for conducting functional assays in key taxa spanning the angiosperm phylogeny. We first show that virus-induced gene silencing (VIGS) of a PHYTOENE DESATURASE ortholog (TdPDS) can be achieved in Thalictrum dioicum with an efficiency of 42% and a survival rate of 97%, using tobacco rattle virus (TRV) vectors. The photobleached leaf phenotype of silenced plants significantly correlates with the down-regulation of endogenous TdPDS (P<0.05), as compared to controls. Floral silencing of PDS was achieved in the faster flowering spring ephemeral T. thalictroides. In its close relative, T. clavatum, silencing of the floral MADS box gene AGAMOUS (AG) resulted in strong homeotic conversions of floral organs. In conclusion, we set forth our optimized protocol for VIGS by vacuum-infiltration of Thalictrum seedlings or dormant tubers as a reference for the research community. The three species reported here span the range of floral morphologies and pollination syndromes present in Thalictrum. The evidence presented on floral silencing of orthologs of the marker gene PDS and the floral homeotic gene AG will enable a comparative approach to the study of the evolution of flower development in this group.