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1.  Specific Duplication and Dorsoventrally Asymmetric Expression Patterns of Cycloidea-Like Genes in Zygomorphic Species of Ranunculaceae 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e95727.
Floral bilateral symmetry (zygomorphy) has evolved several times independently in angiosperms from radially symmetrical (actinomorphic) ancestral states. Homologs of the Antirrhinum majus Cycloidea gene (Cyc) have been shown to control floral symmetry in diverse groups in core eudicots. In the basal eudicot family Ranunculaceae, there is a single evolutionary transition from actinomorphy to zygomorphy in the stem lineage of the tribe Delphinieae. We characterized Cyc homologs in 18 genera of Ranunculaceae, including the four genera of Delphinieae, in a sampling that represents the floral morphological diversity of this tribe, and reconstructed the evolutionary history of this gene family in Ranunculaceae. Within each of the two RanaCyL (Ranunculaceae Cycloidea-like) lineages previously identified, an additional duplication possibly predating the emergence of the Delphinieae was found, resulting in up to four gene copies in zygomorphic species. Expression analyses indicate that the RanaCyL paralogs are expressed early in floral buds and that the duration of their expression varies between species and paralog class. At most one RanaCyL paralog was expressed during the late stages of floral development in the actinomorphic species studied whereas all paralogs from the zygomorphic species were expressed, composing a species-specific identity code for perianth organs. The contrasted asymmetric patterns of expression observed in the two zygomorphic species is discussed in relation to their distinct perianth architecture.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0095727
PMCID: PMC3994137  PMID: 24752428
2.  Evolutionary Trends in the Flowers of Asteridae: Is Polyandry an Alternative to Zygomorphy? 
Annals of Botany  2008;102(2):153-165.
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.
Methods
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.
Key Results
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1093/aob/mcn082
PMCID: PMC2712368  PMID: 18511411
Floral symmetry; architectural constraints; Asteridae; comparative analysis; composite tree; correlated evolution; evolutionary scenario
3.  Evolution of Perianth and Stamen Characteristics with Respect to Floral Symmetry in Ranunculales 
Annals of Botany  2007;100(3):631-640.
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.
Methods
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.
Key Results
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1093/aob/mcm041
PMCID: PMC2533616  PMID: 17428835
Floral symmetry; Ranunculales; perianth; androecium; stamen; spur; merism; evo-devo
4.  Virus-induced gene silencing (VIGS) in Cysticapnos vesicaria, a zygomorphic-flowered Papaveraceae (Ranunculales, basal eudicots) 
Annals of Botany  2012;109(5):911-920.
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.
Methods
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.
Key Results
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1093/aob/mcs008
PMCID: PMC3310490  PMID: 22307568
Agrobacterium tumefaciens; basal eudicots; Cysticapnos vesicaria; FLORICAULA; Papaveraceae; PHYTOENE DESATURASE; Ranunculales; Tobacco rattle virus; VIGS, zygomorphy
5.  Genetic Analysis of Floral Symmetry in Van Gogh's Sunflowers Reveals Independent Recruitment of CYCLOIDEA Genes in the Asteraceae 
PLoS Genetics  2012;8(3):e1002628.
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.
Author Summary
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.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1002628
PMCID: PMC3315478  PMID: 22479210
6.  Floral development and evolution of capitulum structure in Anacyclus (Anthemideae, Asteraceae) 
Annals of Botany  2013;112(8):1597-1612.
Background and Aims
Most of the diversity in the pseudanthia of Asteraceae is based on the differential symmetry and sexuality of its flowers. In Anacyclus, where there are (1) homogamous capitula, with bisexual, mainly actinomorphic and pentamerous flowers; and (2) heterogamous capitula, with peripheral zygomorphic, trimerous and long-/short-rayed female flowers, the floral ontogeny was investigated to infer their origin.
Methods
Floral morphology and ontogeny were studied using scanning electron microscope and light microscope techniques
Key Results
Disc flowers, subtended by paleae, initiate acropetally. Perianth and androecium initiation is unidirectional/simultaneous. Late zygomorphy occurs by enlargement of the adaxial perianth lobes. In contrast, ray flowers, subtended by involucral bracts, initiate after the proximal disc buds, breaking the inflorescence acropetal pattern. Early zygomorphy is manifested through the fusion of the lateral and abaxial perianth lobes and the arrest of the adaxials. We report atypical phenotypes with peripheral ‘trumpet’ flowers from natural populations. The peripheral ‘trumpet’ buds initiate after disc flowers, but maintain an actinomorphic perianth. All phenotypes are compared and interpreted in the context of alternative scenarios for the origin of the capitulum and the perianth identity.
Conclusions
Homogamous inflorescences display a uniform floral morphology and development, whereas the peripheral buds in heterogamous capitula display remarkable plasticity. Disc and ray flowers follow different floral developmental pathways. Peripheral zygomorphic flowers initiate after the proximal actinomorphic disc flowers, behaving as lateral independent units of the pseudanthial disc from inception. The perianth and the androecium are the most variable whorls across the different types of flowers, but their changes are not correlated. Lack of homology between hypanthial appendages and a calyx, and the perianth double-sided structure are discussed for Anacyclus together with potential causes of its ray flower plasticity.
doi:10.1093/aob/mcs301
PMCID: PMC3828941  PMID: 23287557
Anacyclus; capitulum; Compositae; disc flowers; evo-devo; inflorescence; pseudanthium; ray flowers
7.  Expressions of ECE-CYC2 clade genes relating to abortion of both dorsal and ventral stamens in Opithandra (Gesneriaceae) 
Background
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.
Results
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.
Conclusion
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.
doi:10.1186/1471-2148-9-244
PMCID: PMC2763874  PMID: 19811633
8.  Comparative Transcriptional Profiling Provides Insights into the Evolution and Development of the Zygomorphic Flower of Vicia sativa (Papilionoideae) 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(2):e57338.
Background
Vicia sativa (the common vetch) possesses a predominant zygomorphic flower and belongs to the subfamily Papilionoideae, which is related to Arabidopsis thaliana in the eurosid II clade of the core eudicots. Each vetch flower consists of 21 concentrically arranged organs: the outermost five sepals, then five petals and ten stamens, and a single carpel in the center.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We explored the floral transcriptome to examine a genome-scale genetic model of the zygomorphic flower of vetch. mRNA was obtained from an equal mixture of six floral organs, leaves and roots. De novo assembly of the vetch transcriptome using Illumina paired-end technology produced 71,553 unigenes with an average length of 511 bp. We then compared the expression changes in the 71,553 unigenes in the eight independent organs through RNA-Seq Quantification analysis. We predominantly analyzed gene expression patterns specific to each floral organ and combinations of floral organs that corresponded to the traditional ABC model domains. Comparative analyses were performed in the floral transcriptomes of vetch and Arabidopsis, and genomes of vetch and Medicago truncatula.
Conclusions/Significance
Our comparative analysis of vetch and Arabidopsis showed that the vetch flowers conform to a strict ABC model. We analyzed the evolution and expression of the TCP gene family in vetch at a whole-genome level, and several unigenes specific to three different vetch petals, which might offer some clues toward elucidating the molecular mechanisms underlying floral zygomorphy. Our results provide the first insights into the genome-scale molecular regulatory network that controls the evolution and development of the zygomorphic flower in Papilionoideae.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0057338
PMCID: PMC3578871  PMID: 23437373
9.  Ovule Morphogenesis in Ranunculaceae and its Systematic Significance 
Annals of Botany  2007;101(3):447-462.
Background and Aims
Ranunculaceae has a prominent phylogenetic position in Ranunculales which appears at the base of eudicots. The aims of the present paper are to reveal the features of ovule morphogenesis in different taxa and gain a better understanding of the systematics of Ranunculaceae.
Methods
Flowers of 17 species from three subfamilies, nine tribes and 16 genera of Ranunculaceae, at successive developmental stages, were collected in the wild and studied with a scanning electron microscope.
Key Results
The integuments in the unitegmic ovules in Helleborus, Ranunculus and Oxygraphis, as well as the inner integuments in the bitegmic genera, initiate annularly and eventually become cup-shaped. However, the integuments in the unitegmic ovules in Anemone and Clematis, as well as the outer integuments in the bitegmic genera, arise semi-annularly and eventually become hood-shaped. Different kinds of appendages appear on the ovules during development. In Coptis of subfamily Coptidoideae, a wrap-shaped appendage arises outside the ovule and envelopes the ovule entirely. In the genera of subfamily Thalictroideae and tribe Anemoneae of subfamily Ranunculoideae, appendages appear on the placenta, the funicle or both. In tribe Helleboreae of subfamily Ranunculoideae, an alary appendage is initiated where the integument and the funicle join and becomes hood-shaped.
Conclusions
Ovule morphogenesis characteristics are significant in classification at the levels of subfamilies and tribes. The initiation patterns of the integuments and the development of appendages show diversity in Ranunculaceae. The present observations suggest that the bitegmic, hood-shaped outer integument and endostomic micropyle are primitive while the unitegmic, cupular-shaped outer integument and bistomic micropyle are derivative.
doi:10.1093/aob/mcm298
PMCID: PMC2701822  PMID: 18065776
Ranunculaceae; ovule; morphogenesis; systematics
10.  High time for a roll call: gene duplication and phylogenetic relationships of TCP-like genes in monocots 
Annals of Botany  2011;107(9):1533-1544.
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.
Methods
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.
Key Results
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1093/aob/mcr059
PMCID: PMC3108806  PMID: 21444336
TCP; tb1; CYCLOIDEA; PCF1; Zea mays; Oryza sativa; Brachypodium distachyon; Sorghum bicolor; gene family; monocot; whole genome duplication
11.  Assessing duplication and loss of APETALA1/FRUITFULL homologs in Ranunculales 
Gene duplication and loss provide raw material for evolutionary change within organismal lineages as functional diversification of gene copies provide a mechanism for phenotypic variation. Here we focus on the APETALA1/FRUITFULL MADS-box gene lineage evolution. AP1/FUL genes are angiosperm-specific and have undergone several duplications. By far the most significant one is the core-eudicot duplication resulting in the euAP1 and euFUL clades. Functional characterization of several euAP1 and euFUL genes has shown that both function in proper floral meristem identity, and axillary meristem repression. Independently, euAP1 genes function in floral meristem and sepal identity, whereas euFUL genes control phase transition, cauline leaf growth, compound leaf morphogenesis and fruit development. Significant functional variation has been detected in the function of pre-duplication basal-eudicot FUL-like genes, but the underlying mechanisms for change have not been identified. FUL-like genes in the Papaveraceae encode all functions reported for euAP1 and euFUL genes, whereas FUL-like genes in Aquilegia (Ranunculaceae) function in inflorescence development and leaf complexity, but not in flower or fruit development. Here we isolated FUL-like genes across the Ranunculales and used phylogenetic approaches to analyze their evolutionary history. We identified an early duplication resulting in the RanFL1 and RanFL2 clades. RanFL1 genes were present in all the families sampled and are mostly under strong negative selection in the MADS, I and K domains. RanFL2 genes were only identified from Eupteleaceae, Papaveraceae s.l., Menispermaceae and Ranunculaceae and show relaxed purifying selection at the I and K domains. We discuss how asymmetric sequence diversification, new motifs, differences in codon substitutions and likely protein-protein interactions resulting from this Ranunculiid-specific duplication can help explain the functional differences among basal-eudicot FUL-like genes.
doi:10.3389/fpls.2013.00358
PMCID: PMC3775002  PMID: 24062757
gene duplication; APETALA1; FRUITFULL; basal-eudicots; FRUITFULL-like; Ranunculales
12.  Divergent genetic mechanisms underlie reversals to radial floral symmetry from diverse zygomorphic flowered ancestors 
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.
doi:10.3389/fpls.2013.00302
PMCID: PMC3747361  PMID: 23970887
CYC2-like genes; development; floral symmetry; Malpighiaceae; reversals
13.  The effect of flower position on variation and covariation in floral traits in a wild hermaphrodite plant 
BMC Plant Biology  2010;10:91.
Background
Floral traits within plants can vary with flower position or flowering time. Within an inflorescence, sexual allocation of early produced basal flowers is often female-biased while later produced distal flowers are male-biased. Such temporal adjustment of floral resource has been considered one of the potential advantages of modularity (regarding a flower as a module) in hermaphrodites. However, flowers are under constraints of independent evolution of a given trait. To understand flower diversification within inflorescences, here we examine variation and covariation in floral traits within racemes at the individual and the maternal family level respectively in an alpine herb Aconitum gymnandrum (Ranunculaceae).
Results
We found that floral traits varied significantly with flower position and among families, and position effects were family-specific. Most of the variance of floral traits was among individuals rather than among flowers within individuals or among families. Significant phenotypic correlations between traits were not affected by position, indicating trait integration under shared developmental regulation. In contrast, positive family-mean correlations in floral traits declined gradually from basal to distal flowers (nine significant correlations among floral traits in basal flowers and only three in distal flowers), showing position-specificity. Therefore, the pattern and magnitude of genetic correlations decreased with flower position.
Conclusions
This finding on covariation pattern in floral reproductive structures within racemes has not been revealed before, providing insights into temporal variation and position effects in floral traits within plants and the potential advantages of modularity in hermaphrodites.
doi:10.1186/1471-2229-10-91
PMCID: PMC3095358  PMID: 20482889
14.  Parallel evolution of TCP and B-class genes in Commelinaceae flower bilateral symmetry 
EvoDevo  2012;3:6.
Background
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1186/2041-9139-3-6
PMCID: PMC3359255  PMID: 22394484
B class genes; Commelinaceae; CYCLOIDEA; homeotic change; monocots; tepals; teosinte branched1
15.  On ‘various contrivances’: pollination, phylogeny and flower form in the Solanaceae 
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.
doi:10.1098/rstb.2009.0236
PMCID: PMC2838263  PMID: 20047871
adaptive radiation; flower morphology; phylogeny; Solanaceae; pollination syndrome; homoplasy
16.  Virus-induced gene silencing as a tool for functional analyses in the emerging model plant Aquilegia (columbine, Ranunculaceae) 
Plant Methods  2007;3:6.
Background
The lower eudicot genus Aquilegia, commonly known as columbine, is currently the subject of extensive genetic and genomic research aimed at developing this taxon as a new model for the study of ecology and evolution. The ability to perform functional genetic analyses is a critical component of this development process and ultimately has the potential to provide insight into the genetic basis for the evolution of a wide array of traits that differentiate flowering plants. Aquilegia is of particular interest due to both its recent evolutionary history, which involves a rapid adaptive radiation, and its intermediate phylogenetic position between core eudicot (e.g., Arabidopsis) and grass (e.g., Oryza) model species.
Results
Here we demonstrate the effective use of a reverse genetic technique, virus-induced gene silencing (VIGS), to study gene function in this emerging model plant. Using Agrobacterium mediated transfer of tobacco rattle virus (TRV) based vectors, we induce silencing of PHYTOENE DESATURASE (AqPDS) in Aquilegia vulgaris seedlings, and ANTHOCYANIDIN SYNTHASE (AqANS) and the B-class floral organ identity gene PISTILLATA in A. vulgaris flowers. For all of these genes, silencing phenotypes are associated with consistent reduction in endogenous transcript levels. In addition, we show that silencing of AqANS has no effect on overall floral morphology and is therefore a suitable marker for the identification of silenced flowers in dual-locus silencing experiments.
Conclusion
Our results show that TRV-VIGS in Aquilegia vulgaris allows data to be rapidly obtained and can be reproduced with effective survival and silencing rates. Furthermore, this method can successfully be used to evaluate the function of early-acting developmental genes. In the future, data derived from VIGS analyses will be combined with large-scale sequencing and microarray experiments already underway in order to address both recent and ancient evolutionary questions.
doi:10.1186/1746-4811-3-6
PMCID: PMC1855323  PMID: 17430595
17.  Floral Morphology and Development in Quillajaceae and Surianaceae (Fabales), the Species-poor Relatives of Leguminosae and Polygalaceae 
Annals of Botany  2007;100(7):1491-1505.
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.
Method
Floral buds of representatives of Quillajaceae and Surianaceae were dissected and observed using light microscopy and scanning electron microscopy.
Key Results
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1093/aob/mcm228
PMCID: PMC2759219  PMID: 17906327
Fabales; Leguminosae; eurosids I; floral ontogeny; Polygalaceae; Quillajaceae; Surianaceae; floral symmetry
18.  Floral Development of Berberidopsis corallina: a Crucial Link in the Evolution of Flowers in the Core Eudicots 
Annals of Botany  2004;94(5):741-751.
• Background and Aims On the basis of molecular evidence Berberidopsidaceae have been linked with Aextoxicaceae in an order Berberidopsidales at the base of the core Eudicots. The floral development of Berberidopsis is central to the understanding of the evolution of floral configurations at the transition of the basal Eudicots to the core Eudicots. It lies at the transition of trimerous or dimerous, simplified apetalous forms into pentamerous, petaliferous flowers.
• Methods The floral ontogeny of Berberidopsis was studied with a scanning electron microscope.
• Key Results Flowers are grouped in terminal racemes with variable development. The relationship between the number of tepals, stamens and carpels is more or less fixed and floral initiation follows a strict 2/5 phyllotaxis. Two bracteoles, 12 tepals, eight stamens and three carpels are initiated in a regular sequence. The number of stamens can be increased by a doubling of stamen positions.
• Conclusions The floral ontogeny of Berberidopsis provides support for the shift in floral bauplan from the basal Eudicots to the core Eudicots as a transition of a spiral flower with a 2/5 phyllotaxis to pentamerous flowers with two perianth whorls, two stamen whorls and a single carpel whorl. The differentiation of sepals and petals from bracteotepals is discussed and a comparison is made with other Eudicots with a similar configuration and development. Depending on the resolution of the relationships among the basalmost core Eudicots it is suggested that Berberidopsis either represents a critical stage in the evolution of pentamerous flowers of major clades of Eudicots, or has a floral prototype that may be at the base of evolution of flowers of other core Eudicots. The distribution of a floral Bauplan in other clades of Eudicots similar to Berberidopsidales is discussed.
doi:10.1093/aob/mch199
PMCID: PMC4242220  PMID: 15451722
Aextoxicon; Berberidopsidales; Berberidopsis; core Eudicots; Streptothamnus; bracteotepals; floral development, petals; phylogeny; phyllotaxis; scanning electron microscope
19.  Similar Genetic Mechanisms Underlie the Parallel Evolution of Floral Phenotypes 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(4):e36033.
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.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0036033
PMCID: PMC3338646  PMID: 22558314
20.  Environmental and molecular analysis of the floral transition in the lower eudicot Aquilegia formosa 
EvoDevo  2011;2:4.
Background
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.
Results
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1186/2041-9139-2-4
PMCID: PMC3049749  PMID: 21329499
21.  Virus-Induced Gene Silencing as a Tool for Comparative Functional Studies in Thalictrum 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(8):e12064.
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.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0012064
PMCID: PMC2919395  PMID: 20706585
22.  Floral ontogeny of Annonaceae: evidence for high variability in floral form 
Annals of Botany  2010;106(4):591-605.
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.
Methods
Floral ontogeny of 15 species from 12 genera is examined and described using scanning electron microscopy.
Key Results
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1093/aob/mcq158
PMCID: PMC2944981  PMID: 20810741
Annonaceae; basal angiosperms; Magnoliales; androecium; carpel; doubling; floral ontogeny; merism; perianth; reduction; secondary increase
23.  Intra-plant Variation in Nectar Sugar Composition in Two Aquilegia Species (Ranunculaceae): Contrasting Patterns under Field and Glasshouse Conditions 
Annals of Botany  2007;99(4):653-660.
Background and Aims
Intra-specific variation in nectar chemistry under natural conditions has been only rarely explored, yet it is an essential aspect of our understanding of how pollinator-mediated selection might act on nectar traits. This paper examines intra-specific variation in nectar sugar composition in field and glasshouse plants of the bumblebee-pollinated perennial herbs Aquilegia vulgaris subsp. vulgaris and Aquilegia pyrenaica subsp. cazorlensis (Ranunculaceae). The aims of the study are to assess the generality of extreme intra-plant variation in nectar sugar composition recently reported for other species in the field, and gaining insight on the possible mechanisms involved.
Methods
The proportions of glucose, fructose and sucrose in single-nectary nectar samples collected from field and glasshouse plants were determined using high performance liquid chromatography. A hierarchical variance partition was used to dissect total variance into components due to variation among plants, flowers within plants, and nectaries within flowers.
Key Results
Nectar of the two species was mostly sucrose-dominated, but composition varied widely in the field, ranging from sucrose-only to fructose-dominated. Most intra-specific variance was due to differences among nectaries of the same flower, and flowers of the same plant. The high intra-plant variation in sugar composition exhibited by field plants vanished in the glasshouse, where nectar composition emerged as a remarkably constant feature across plants, flowers and nectaries.
Conclusions
In addition to corroborating the results of previous studies documenting extreme intra-plant variation in nectar sugar composition in the field, this study suggests that such variation may ultimately be caused by biotic factors operating on the nectar in the field but not in the glasshouse. Pollinator visitation and pollinator-borne yeasts are suggested as likely causal agents.
doi:10.1093/aob/mcl291
PMCID: PMC2802931  PMID: 17259227
Abiotic environment; Aquilegia pyrenaica subsp. cazorlensis; Aquilegia vulgaris subsp. vulgaris; biotic factors; field conditions; glasshouse; Iberian Peninsula; inter- and intra-specific variation; nectar-sugar composition; nectary; variance components
24.  A developmental basis for stochasticity in floral organ numbers 
Stochasticity ubiquitously inevitably appears at all levels from molecular traits to multicellular, morphological traits. Intrinsic stochasticity in biochemical reactions underlies the typical intercellular distributions of chemical concentrations, e.g., morphogen gradients, which can give rise to stochastic morphogenesis. While the universal statistics and mechanisms underlying the stochasticity at the biochemical level have been widely analyzed, those at the morphological level have not. Such morphological stochasticity is found in foral organ numbers. Although the floral organ number is a hallmark of floral species, it can distribute stochastically even within an individual plant. The probability distribution of the floral organ number within a population is usually asymmetric, i.e., it is more likely to increase rather than decrease from the modal value, or vice versa. We combined field observations, statistical analysis, and mathematical modeling to study the developmental basis of the variation in floral organ numbers among 50 species mainly from Ranunculaceae and several other families from core eudicots. We compared six hypothetical mechanisms and found that a modified error function reproduced much of the asymmetric variation found in eudicot floral organ numbers. The error function is derived from mathematical modeling of floral organ positioning, and its parameters represent measurable distances in the floral bud morphologies. The model predicts two developmental sources of the organ-number distributions: stochastic shifts in the expression boundaries of homeotic genes and a semi-concentric (whorled-type) organ arrangement. Other models species- or organ-specifically reproduced different types of distributions that reflect different developmental processes. The organ-number variation could be an indicator of stochasticity in organ fate determination and organ positioning.
doi:10.3389/fpls.2014.00545
PMCID: PMC4217355  PMID: 25404932
floral development; organ number; ABC model; whorl; phyllotaxis; meristem; Statistics as Topic; Ranunculaceae
25.  Morphological evolution in the variable resin-producing Detarieae (Fabaceae): do morphological characters retain a phylogenetic signal? 
Annals of Botany  2009;105(2):311-325.
Background and Aims
Previous molecular phylogenetic studies disagree with the informal generic-level taxonomic groups based on morphology. In this study morphological characters in the caesalpinioid clade Detarieae are evaluated within a phylogenetic framework as a means of better understanding phylogenetic relationships and morphological evolution.
Methods
Morphological characters were observed and scored for representative species of Detarieae focusing on the resin-producing genera. Phylogenetic analyses were carried out with morphological characters alone and then combined with DNA sequences.
Key Results
Despite a high level of homoplasy, morphological data support several clades corresponding to those recovered in molecular phylogenetic analyses. The more strongly supported clades are each defined by at least one morphological synapomorphy. Several characters (e.g. apetaly) previously used to define informal generic groups evolved several times independently, leading to the differences observed with the molecular phylogenetic analyses. Although floral evolution is complex in Detarieae some patterns are recovered.
Conclusions
New informal taxonomic groupings are proposed based on the present findings. Floral evolution in the diverse Detarieae clade is characterized by a repeated tendency toward zygomorphy through the reduction of lateral petals and toward complete loss of petals.
doi:10.1093/aob/mcp280
PMCID: PMC2814753  PMID: 19939978
Caesalpinioideae; Detarieae; floral evolution; Leguminosae; morphology; phylogeny; resins; taxonomy

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