Background and Aims
Floral symmetry presents two main states in angiosperms, actinomorphy (polysymmetry or radial symmetry) and zygomorphy (monosymmetry or bilateral symmetry). Transitions from actinomorphy to zygomorphy have occurred repeatedly among flowering plants, possibly in coadaptation with specialized pollinators. In this paper, the rules controlling the evolution of floral symmetry were investigated to determine in which architectural context zygomorphy can evolve.
Floral traits potentially associated with perianth symmetry shifts in Asteridae, one of the major clades of the core eudicots, were selected: namely the perianth merism, the presence and number of spurs, and the androecium organ number. The evolution of these characters was optimized on a composite tree. Correlations between symmetry and the other morphological traits were then examined using a phylogenetic comparative method.
The analyses reveal that the evolution of floral symmetry in Asteridae is conditioned by both androecium organ number and perianth merism and that zygomorphy is a prerequisite to the emergence of spurs.
The statistically significant correlation between perianth zygomorphy and oligandry suggests that the evolution of floral symmetry could be canalized by developmental or spatial constraint. Interestingly, the evolution of polyandry in an actinomorphic context appears as an alternative evolutionary pathway to zygomorphy in Asteridae. These results may be interpreted either in terms of plant–pollinator adaptation or in terms of developmental or physical constraints. The results are discussed in relation to current knowledge about the molecular bases underlying floral symmetry.
Floral symmetry; architectural constraints; Asteridae; comparative analysis; composite tree; correlated evolution; evolutionary scenario
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
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
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
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
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
The order Zingiberales comprises ∼2500 species of tropical to subtropical plants, including agriculturally (e.g. banana, ginger) and horticulturally (e.g. cannas, heliconias, bird-of-paradise) important plants. Throughout the evolution of this order, the stamens have been modified from the ancestral filamentous structures that produce pollen (seen in Banana flowers) to petal-like structures that no longer bear pollen sacs (seen in Canna flowers). This results in a reduction of pollen, but an effective increase in the overall size of the floral display and perhaps in the efficacy of specialized pollinators by converting stamens into ‘petals’. This study investigates the genetic mechanisms that are involved in making petal-like structures in place of pollen-producing stamens.
Flowers of the order Zingiberales demonstrate a remarkable trend of reduction in the number of fertile stamens; from five or six fertile, filamentous stamens bearing two thecae each in Musaceae and Strelitziaceae to just a single petaloid stamen bearing a single theca in Cannaceae and Marantaceae. As one progresses from ancestral to derived floral forms, 5–6 fertile stamens are replaced by 4–5 petaloid staminodes. In Cannaceae and Costaceae, all members of the androecial whorls exhibit petaloidy, including the fertile stamen. In Costaceae, a single fertile stamen develops two thecae embedded on a broad petaloid appendage, while in Cannaceae the single fertile stamen is further reduced to a single theca with a prominent, expanded petaloid appendage. Whether petaloidy of the fertile stamen is a synapomorphy of the entire ginger clade (including Cannaceae, Costaceae, Zingiberaceae and Marantaceae), or the result of independent convergent evolution in Cannaceae, Costaceae, and some Zingiberaceae, is unclear. We combine a developmental series of the formation of the petaloid fertile stamen in Canna indica with data on the expression of B- and C-class floral organ identity genes to elucidate the organogenetic identity of the petaloid stamen and staminodes. Our data indicate that the single fertile theca in C. indica and its petaloid appendage are derived from one-half of the primordium of a single stamen, with no contribution from the remaining part of the stamen (i.e. the second theca primordium) which aborts early in development. The petaloid appendage expands later, and develops from the position of the filament/connective of the developing theca. Floral identity gene expression shows that petal identity genes (i.e. B-class genes) are expressed in all floral organs studied while C-class gene AG-1 is expressed in an increasing gradient from sepals to gynoecium, and AG-2 is expressed in all floral organs except the petals. The canonical model for molecular specification of floral organ identity is not sufficient to explain petaloidy in the androecial whorl in Canna sp. Further studies understanding the regulation of gene networks are required.
Canna; evo-devo; floral development; MADS-box genes; petaloid stamens; petaloidy; Zingiberales
Background and Aims
Within Chenopodioideae, Atripliceae have been distinguished by two bracteoles enveloping the female flowers/fruits, whereas in other tribes flowers are described as ebracteolate with persistent perianth. Molecular phylogenetic hypotheses suggest ‘bracteoles’ to be homoplastic. The origin of the bracteoles was explained by successive inflorescence reductions. Flower reduction was used to explain sex determination. Therefore, floral ontogeny was studied to evaluate the nature of the bracteoles and sex determination in Atripliceae.
Inflorescences of species of Atriplex, Chenopodium, Dysphania and Spinacia oleracea were investigated using light microscopy and scanning electron microscopy.
The main axis of the inflorescence is indeterminate with elementary dichasia as lateral units. Flowers develop centripetally, with first the formation of a perianth primordium either from a ring primordium or from five individual tepal primordia fusing post-genitally. Subsequently, five stamen primordia originate, followed by the formation of an annular ovary primordium surrounding a central single ovule. Flowers are either initially hermaphroditic remaining bisexual and/or becoming functionally unisexual at later stages, or initially unisexual. In the studied species of Atriplex, female flowers are strictly female, except in A. hortensis. In Spinacia, female and male flowers are unisexual at all developmental stages. Female flowers of Atriplex and Spinacia are protected by two accrescent fused tepal lobes, whereas the other perianth members are absent.
In Atriplex and Spinacia modified structures around female flowers are not bracteoles, but two opposite accrescent tepal lobes, parts of a perianth persistent on the fruit. Flowers can achieve sexuality through many different combinations; they are initially hermaphroditic, subsequently developing into bisexual or functionally unisexual flowers, with the exception of Spinacia and strictly female flowers in Atriplex, which are unisexual from the earliest developmental stages. There may be a relationship between the formation of an annular perianth primordium and flexibility in floral sex determination.
Atriplex; Atripliceae; bract/bracteole; Chenopodiaceae; Chenopodioideae; Chenopodium; Dysphania; floral ontogeny; floral sex determination; perianth modification; SEM/LM; Spinacia
Background and Aims
Members of Rubiaceae are generally characterized by an inferior ovary. However, Mitrasacmopsis is cited in the literature as having a semi-inferior to superior ovary. It has previously been hypothesized that the gynoecial development of Rubiaceae with semi-inferior to superior ovaries takes place in the same way as in Gaertnera, one of the most commonly cited rubiaceous genera with a superior ovary. To test this hypothesis, a floral ontogenetic study of Mitrasacmopsis was carried out with special attention paid to the gynoecial development.
Floral ontogeny and anatomy of Mitrasacmopsis were examined using scanning electron and light microscopy.
At an early developmental stage, a concavity becomes visible in the centre of the floral apex simultaneously with the perianth initiation. A ring primordium surrounding this concavity expands vertically forming the corolla tube (early sympetaly). Stamen primordia develop inside the corolla. From the bicarpellate gynoecium only two carpel tips are visible because the ovary is formed by a gynoecial hypanthium. In the basal part of each carpel, a placenta primordium is initiated. Two septa divide the ovary into two locules. In each locule, the placenta becomes mushroom shaped and distinctly stalked. Eventually, the inferior ovary of Mitrasacmopsis develops into a beaked capsule. Only very late in the fruiting stage, the continuously expanding ovary is raised above the insertion point of the persistent calyx, changing the ovary position of Mitrasacmopsis from basically inferior to secondarily semi-inferior.
Mitrasacmopsis follows an epigynous pattern of floral development. However, the presence of a prominent beak in the fruiting stage gives the whole ovary a semi-inferior appearance. This kind of secondarily semi-inferior ovary is shown to be different from the secondarily superior ovary observed in Gaertnera.
Mitrasacmopsis quadrivalvis; Gaertnera; floral ontogeny; gynoecial development; epigyny; secondary semi-inferior; secondary superior; scanning electron and light microscopy
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
Background and Aims
Individual flowers of the monocot Curculigo racemosa (Hypoxidaceae, Asparagales) are regularly polyandrous. To evaluate the significance of this almost unique character among Asparagales for flower evolution of asparagoid monocots, flowers of C. racemosa were studied comparatively.
Anthetic flowers as well as early floral developmental stages were studied by light and scanning electron microscopy.
Despite the polyandry, floral development is similar to that of other Asparagales with a developmental gradient from adaxial to abaxial. Stamens initiate simultaneously and the diameter of staminal primordia is about half of that in species with six anthers. The number of stamens is not fixed (12–26) and varies within the same inflorescence. Surprisingly, the gynoecium can be four- or six-locular, besides the normal trimerous state.
The discovery of a polyandrous Curculigo reveals plasticity of stamen number at the base of Asparagales. Orchidaceae – sister to all other Asparagales – has a reduced stamen number (three, two or one), whereas in Hypoxidaceae – part of the next diverging clade – either the normal monocot stamen number (six), polyandry (this study) or the loss of three anthers (Pauridia) occurs. However, at present it is impossible to decide whether the flexibility in stamen number is autapomorphic for each group or whether it is a synapomorphy. The small size of stamen primordia of Curculigo is conspicuous. It allows more space for additional androecial primordia. Stamens are initiated as independent organs, and filaments are not in bundles, hence C. racemosa is not secondarily polyandrous as may be the case in the distantly related Gethyllis of asparagoid Amaryllidaceae. The increase in carpel number is a rare phenomenon in angiosperms. A possible explanation for the polyandry of C. racemosa is that it is a natural SUPERMAN-deficient mutant, which shows an increase of stamens, or ULTRAPETALA or CARPEL FACTORY mutants, which are polyandrous and changed in carpel number.
Monocots; lower Asparagales; floral development; SEM; floral mutants; androecium; gynoecium; Orchidaceae
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
In basal angiosperms (including ANITA grade, magnoliids, Choranthaceae, Ceratophyllaceae) almost all bisexual flowers are dichogamous (with male and female functions more or less separated in time), and nearly 100 per cent of those are protogynous (with female function before male function). Movements of floral parts and differential early abscission of stamens in the male phase are variously associated with protogyny. Evolution of synchronous dichogamy based on the day/night rhythm and anthesis lasting 2 days is common. In a few clades in Magnoliales and Laurales heterodichogamy has also evolved. Beetles, flies and thrips are the major pollinators, with various degrees of specialization up to large beetles and special flies in some large-flowered Nymphaeaceae, Magnoliaceae, Annonaceae and Aristolochiaceae. Unusual structural specializations are involved in floral biological adaptations (calyptras, inner staminodes, synandria and food bodies, and secretory structures on tepals, stamens and staminodes). Numerous specializations that are common in monocots and eudicots are absent in basal angiosperms. Several families are poorly known in their floral biology.
basal angiosperms; floral biology; floral structure; flower evolution; pollination biology
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
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
Flowering is a critical transition in plant development, the timing of which can have considerable fitness consequences. Until recently, research into the genetic control of flowering time and its associated developmental changes was focused on core eudicots (for example, Arabidopsis) or monocots (for example, Oryza). Here we examine the flowering response of Aquilegia formosa, a member of the eudicot order Ranunculales that is emerging as an important model for the investigation of plant ecology and evolution.
We have determined that A. formosa has a strong vernalization requirement but little or no photoperiod response, making it a day neutral (DN) plant. Consistent with this, the Aquilegia homolog of FLOWERING LOCUS T (AqFT) is expressed in both long and short days but surprisingly, the locus is expressed before the transition to flowering. In situ hybridizations with homologs of several Arabidopsis Floral Pathway Integrators (FPIs) do not suggest conserved functions relative to Arabidopsis, the potential exceptions being AqLFY and AqAGL24.2.
In Aquilegia, vernalization is critical to flowering but this signal is not strictly required for the transcriptional activation of AqFT. The expression patterns of AqLFY and AqAGL24.2 suggest a hypothesis for the development of Aquilegia's determinate inflorescence whereby their differential expression controls the progression of each meristem from inflorescence to floral identity. Interestingly, none of the Aquilegia expression patterns are consistent with a function in floral repression which, combined with the lack of a FLC homolog, means that new candidate genes must be identified for the control of vernalization response in Aquilegia.
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
The perianths of the Lardizabalaceae are diverse. The second-whorl floral organs of Sinofranchetia chinensis (Lardizabalaceae) are nectar leaves. The aim of this study was to explore the nature of this type of floral organ, and to determine its relationship to nectar leaves in other Ranunculales species, and to other floral organs in Sinofranchetia chinensis.
Approaches of evolutionary developmental biology were used, including 3′ RACE (rapid amplification of cDNA ends) for isolating floral MADS-box genes, phylogenetic analysis for reconstructing gene evolutionary history, in situ hybridization and tissue-specific RT-PCR for identifying gene expression patterns and SEM (scanning electron microscopy) for observing the epidermal cell morphology of floral organs.
Fourteen new floral MADS-box genes were isolated from Sinofranchetia chinensis and from two other species of Lardizabalaceae, Holboellia grandiflora and Decaisnea insignis. The phylogenetic analysis of AP3-like genes in Ranunculales showed that three AP3 paralogues from Sinofranchetia chinensis belong to the AP3-I, -II and -III lineages. In situ hybridization results showed that SIchAP3-3 is significantly expressed only in nectar leaves at the late stages of floral development, and SIchAG, a C-class MADS-box gene, is expressed not only in stamens and carpels, but also in nectar leaves. SEM observation revealed that the adaxial surface of nectar leaves is covered with conical epidermal cells, a hallmark of petaloidy.
The gene expression data imply that the nectar leaves in S. chinensis might share a similar genetic regulatory code with other nectar leaves in Ranunculales species. Based on gene expression and morphological evidence, it is considered that the nectar leaves in S. chinensis could be referred to as petals. Furthermore, the study supports the hypothesis that the nectar leaves in some Ranunculales species might be derived from stamens.
Nectar leaves; perianth; petals; Ranunculales; Lardizabalaceae; Sinofranchetia chinensis; MADS-box; expression pattern; evolutionary developmental biology
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
Nectar robbers are thought rarely to pollinate flowers, especially those with sexual organs hidden within corollas. In this study, we examined whether robbers pollinate flowers of distylous Primula secundiflora. Distylous plants have two floral morphs. Pin flowers have long styles and short stamens, and thrum flowers have short styles and long stamens. Flowers of P. secundiflora were commonly robbed by bumble-bees, and robbing holes were always situated between high and low sexual organs for both floral morphs. We observed that pollen grains of pin flowers were removed while thrum flowers received fresh pollen grains immediately after flowers were robbed. We manipulated flowers so that only nectar robbers could visit them. This resulted in 98 per cent of thrum flowers and 6 per cent of pin flowers setting fruit, and seed number per thrum fruit was also significantly higher than per pin fruit. Our findings suggest that nectar robbers transfer pollen from pin flowers to thrum flowers effectively, and consequently increase male fitness of the pin morph and female fitness of the thrum morph. Such asymmetrical pollen flow caused by nectar robbers may act as an important selective agent in floral fitness and evolution of distyly.
nectar robbing; distyly; reciprocity; robber-like pollinator
Background and Aims
The MADS-box transcription factor AGAMOUS (AG) is an important regulator of stamen and fruit identity as well as floral meristem determinacy in a number of core eudicots and monocots. However, its role outside of these groups has not been assessed explicitly. Examining its role in opium poppy, a basal eudicot, could uncover much about the evolution and development of flower and fruit development in the angiosperms.
AG orthologues were isolated by degenerate RT-PCR and the gene sequence and structure examined; gene expression was characterized using in situ hybridization and the function assessed using virus-induced gene silencing.
In opium poppy, a basal eudicot, the AGAMOUS orthologue is alternatively spliced to produce encoded products that vary at the C-terminus, termed PapsAG-1 and PapsAG-2. Both transcripts are expressed at high levels in stamens and carpels. The functional implications of this alternative transcription were examined using virus-induced gene silencing and the results show that PapsAG-1 has roles in stamen and carpel identity, reflecting those found for Arabidopsis AG. In contrast, PapsAG-2, while displaying redundancy in these functions, has a distinctive role in aspects of carpel development reflected in septae, ovule and stigma defects seen in the loss-of-function line generated.
These results describe the first explicit functional analysis of an AG-clade gene in a basal eudicot; illustrate one of the few examples of the functional consequences of alternative splicing in transcription factors and reveal the importance of alternative transcription, as well as gene duplication, as a driving force in evolution.
Flower development; MADS-box; Papaver somniferum; alternative transcription; AGAMOUS; gene-silencing
Background and Aims
Preliminary field observations in 2001 and 2002 suggested that Kingdonia uniflora (Circaeasteraceae, Ranunculales) exhibits heterodichogamy, an unusual kind of reproductive heteromorphy, hitherto unreported in Ranunculales and known from only one other genus in basal eudicots.
During several subsequent years flowers were observed in the field. Flowers were fixed in FAA and studied with microtome sections series and with the scanning electron microscope.
The flowers proved to be heterodichogamous, with protandrous and protogynous morphs, which have a 1 : 1 ratio. Both morphs equally set fruit. Each year a single flower is formed at the tip of a rhizome or more rarely two flowers. The flowers are already open when they appear at the soil surface, before they are receptive and before pollen is dispersed. In both floral morphs the styles elongate early and the stigmas are positioned above the anthers before anthesis begins. In protogynous flowers the stigmas become receptive in this position; later the styles become reflexed and then the anthers dehisce. In contrast, in protandrous flowers the stamen filaments elongate during early anthesis such that the dehiscing anthers come to lie above the (still unreceptive) stigmas; after dehiscence of all anthers in a flower the styles begin to elongate and become receptive.
This is the first record of heterodichogamy in a representative of Ranunculales, in an herbaceous eudicot, and in a plant with uniflorous ramets. The occurrence of heterodichogamy in Kingdonia in which clonal reproduction appears to be dominant might be an adaptation to avoid mating between the ramets from a common mother individual (genet).
Kingdonia; Circaeasteraceae; Ranunculales; heterodichogamy; reproductive heteromorphy
Stamen movements can be understood as a mechanism influencing pollen presentation and increasing outbreeding success of hermaphroditic flowers via optimized male function. In this study we experimentally analyzed the factors regulating autonomous and thigmonastic (triggered by flower visitors) stamen movements in eight species of Loasaceae. Both types of stamen movements are positively influenced by light and temperature and come to a virtual standstill in the dark and at low temperatures (12°C). Pollen presentation is thus discontinued during periods where pollinators are not active. Overall stamen presentation increases with increasing flower age. Contrary to expectation, no geometrical correlation between the floral scale stimulated and the stamen fascicle reacting exists, indicating that the stimulus is transmitted over the receptacle and stamen maturation dictates which and how many stamens react. Thigmonastic stamen presentation is dramatically accelerated compared to autonomous movement (3–37 times), indicating that the rate of stamen maturation can be adjusted to different visitation schedules. Flowers can react relatively uniformly down to stimulation intervals of 10–15 min., consistently presenting comparable numbers of stamens in the flower c. 5 min. after the stimulus and can thus keep the amount of pollen presented relatively constant even under very high visitation frequencies of 4–6 visits/h. Thigmonastic pollen presentation dramatically reduces the overall duration of the staminate phase (to 1/3rd in Nasa macrothyrsa). Similarly, the carpellate phase is dramatically reduced after pollination, down to 1 d from 4 d. Overall flower longevity is reduced by more than 2/3rds under high visitation rates (<3 d versus 10 d under visitor exclusion) and depleted and pollinated flowers are rapidly removed from the pool. Complex floral behaviour in Loasaceae thus permits a near-total control over pollen dispensation schedules and floral longevity of the individual flower by an extraordinary fine-tuning to both biotic and abiotic factors.
The conventional concept of an ‘undifferentiated perianth’, implying that all perianth organs of a flower are alike, obscures the fact that individual perianth organs are sometimes differentiated into sepaloid and petaloid regions, as in the early-divergent angiosperms Nuphar, Nymphaea, and Schisandra. In the waterlilies Nuphar and Nymphaea, sepaloid regions closely coincide with regions of the perianth that were exposed when the flower was in bud, whereas petaloid regions occur in covered regions, suggesting that their development is at least partly controlled by the environment of the developing tepal. Green and colourful areas differ from each other in trichome density and presence of papillae, features that often distinguish sepals and petals. Field experiments to test whether artificial exposure can induce sepalness in the inner tepals showed that development of sepaloid patches is initiated by exposure, at least in the waterlily species examined. Although light is an important environmental cue, other important factors include an absence of surface contact. Our interpretation contradicts the unspoken rule that ‘sepal’ and ‘petal’ must refer to whole organs. We propose a novel theory (the Mosaic theory), in which the distinction between sepalness and petalness evolved early in angiosperm history, but these features were not fixed to particular organs and were primarily environmentally controlled. At a later stage in angiosperm evolution, sepaloid and petaloid characteristics became fixed to whole organs in specific whorls, thus reducing or removing the need for environmental control in favour of fixed developmental control.
Environment; Nymphaea; Nuphar; organ identity; perianth evolution; petals; Schisandra; sepals; tepals
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