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1.  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.
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.
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.
PMCID: PMC2944981  PMID: 20810741
Annonaceae; basal angiosperms; Magnoliales; androecium; carpel; doubling; floral ontogeny; merism; perianth; reduction; secondary increase
2.  Evolutionary divergence times in the Annonaceae: evidence of a late Miocene origin of Pseuduvaria in Sundaland with subsequent diversification in New Guinea 
Phylogenetic analyses of the Annonaceae consistently identify four clades: a basal clade consisting of Anaxagorea, and a small 'ambavioid' clade that is sister to two main clades, the 'long branch clade' (LBC) and 'short branch clade' (SBC). Divergence times in the family have previously been estimated using non-parametric rate smoothing (NPRS) and penalized likelihood (PL). Here we use an uncorrelated lognormal (UCLD) relaxed molecular clock in BEAST to estimate diversification times of the main clades within the family with a focus on the Asian genus Pseuduvaria within the SBC. Two fossil calibration points are applied, including the first use of the recently discovered Annonaceae fossil Futabanthus. The taxonomy and morphology of Pseuduvaria have been well documented, although no previous dating or biogeographical studies have been undertaken. Ancestral areas at internal nodes within Pseuduvaria are determined using dispersal-vicariance analysis (DIVA) and weighted ancestral area analysis (WAAA).
The divergence times of the main clades within the Annonaceae were found to deviate slightly from previous estimates that used different calibration points and dating methods. In particular, our estimate for the SBC crown (55.2-26.9 Mya) is much younger than previous estimates (62.5-53.1 ± 3.6 Mya and ca. 58.76 Mya). Early diversification of Pseuduvaria was estimated to have occurred 15-8 Mya, possibly associated with the 'mid-Miocene climatic optimum.' Pseuduvaria is inferred to have originated in Sundaland in the late Miocene, ca. 8 Mya; subsequent migration events were predominantly eastwards towards New Guinea and Australia, although several migratory reversals are also postulated. Speciation of Pseuduvaria within New Guinea may have occurred after ca. 6.5 Mya, possibly coinciding with the formation of the Central Range orogeny from ca. 8 Mya.
Our divergence time estimates within the Annonaceae are likely to be more precise as we used a UCLD clock model and calibrated the phylogeny using new fossil evidence. Pseuduvaria is shown to have dispersed from Sundaland after the late Miocene. The present-day paleotropical distribution of Pseuduvaria may have been achieved by long-distance dispersal, and speciation events might be explained by global climatic oscillations, sea level fluctuations, and tectonic activity.
PMCID: PMC2722625  PMID: 19573225
3.  Floral Structure of Kirkia (Kirkiaceae) and its Position in Sapindales 
Annals of Botany  2008;102(4):539-550.
Background and Aims
The monogeneric Kirkiaceae (Sapindales) were formerly placed as Kirkioideae in Simaroubaceae. However, recent molecular phylogenetic studies indicate that they are not in Simaroubaceae and they appear to be sister to the clade of Anacardiaceae plus Burseraceae. Such affinity was never considered or discussed since the first description of Kirkia. The present study is the first detailed analysis of the floral structure of a representative of Kirkiaceae and the first comparison with other sapindalean families, especially Anacardiaceae and Burseraceae.
Floral structure of Kirkia wilmsii was studied using transversal and longitudinal microtome section series, scanning electron microscopy and light microscopy.
Key Results
The flowers of Kirkia wilmsii are morphologically bisexual but functionally unisexual. They are polysymmetric, isomerous (tetramerous) and haplostemonous. The ovary is syncarpous and entirely synascidiate. The floral apex forms a hemispherical protrusion on top of the ovary. The styles are free but postgenitally united and apically form a stigmatic head with a compitum. Each carpel is uniovulate (biovulate in a few other species) and ovules are crassinucellar, bitegmic and slightly campylotropous. The micropyle is formed by both integuments and is unusually long. The unusual two radially disposed locules in each carpel in the former genus Pleiokirkia can be explained developmentally by the two offset and tightly contiguous lateral placentae.
Paralleling the molecular results, a suite of floral features supports the position of Kirkiaceae close to the Anacardiaceae–Burseraceae clade, and not in Simaroubaceae.
PMCID: PMC2701785  PMID: 18687798
Kirkiaceae; floral structure; gynoecium; Sapindales; Anacardiaceae; Burseraceae; monoecy; functional dioecy; heterodichogamy
4.  Reassessing Morphological Homologies in the Early-Divergent Angiosperm Fenerivia (Annonaceae) Based on Floral Vascular Anatomy: Significance for Interpreting Putative Homeotic Mutations 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e81923.
Fenerivia species (Annonaceae) are characterized by a prominent flange immediately below the perianth, which has been interpreted as synapomorphic for the genus. The homology of this flange is controversial: previous studies of Fenerivia heteropetala (an aberrant species, with 12 perianth parts in three whorls) have suggested that the flange may represent a vestigial calyx resulting from a disruption to the homeotic control of organ identity during floral development. Comparative data on floral vasculature in Fenerivia capuronii are presented to elucidate the homology of the flange in other Fenerivia species (which possess nine perianth parts in three whorls, typical of most Annonaceae). The flange in F. capuronii differs from that in F. heteropetala as it is unvascularized. It is nevertheless suggested that the flange is likely to be homologous, and that a homeotic mutation in the F. heteropetala lineage resulted in the formation of a vestigial but vascularized calyx that fused with the otherwise unvascularized flange.
PMCID: PMC3859534  PMID: 24349152
5.  Synorganisation without organ fusion in the flowers of Geranium robertianum (Geraniaceae) and its not so trivial obdiplostemony 
Annals of Botany  2010;106(5):687-695.
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.
Key Results
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.
PMCID: PMC2958787  PMID: 20802050
Angiosperms; diplostemony; floral architecture; floral development; floral morphology; fusion; Geraniaceae; Geranium robertianum; obdiplostemony; synorganisation
6.  Carpeloidy in flower evolution and diversification: a comparative study in Carica papaya and Arabidopsis thaliana 
Annals of Botany  2011;107(9):1453-1463.
Background and Aims
Bisexual flowers of Carica papaya range from highly regular flowers to morphs with various fusions of stamens to the ovary. Arabidopsis thaliana sup1 mutants have carpels replaced by chimeric carpel–stamen structures. Comparative analysis of stamen to carpel conversions in the two different plant systems was used to understand the stage and origin of carpeloidy when derived from stamen tissues, and consequently to understand how carpeloidy contributes to innovations in flower evolution.
Floral development of bisexual flowers of Carica was studied by scanning electron microscopy and was compared with teratological sup mutants of A. thaliana.
Key Results
In Carica development of bisexual flowers was similar to wild (unisexual) forms up to locule initiation. Feminization ranges from fusion of stamen tissue to the gynoecium to complete carpeloidy of antepetalous stamens. In A. thaliana, partial stamen feminization occurs exclusively at the flower apex, with normal stamens forming at the periphery. Such transformations take place relatively late in development, indicating strong developmental plasticity of most stamen tissues. These results are compared with evo-devo theories on flower bisexuality, as derived from unisexual ancestors. The Arabidopsis data highlight possible early evolutionary events in the acquisition of bisexuality by a patchy transformation of stamen parts into female parts linked to a flower axis-position effect. The Carica results highlight tissue-fusion mechanisms in angiosperms leading to carpeloidy once bisexual flowers have evolved.
We show two different developmental routes leading to stamen to carpel conversions by late re-specification. The process may be a fundamental aspect of flower development that is hidden in most instances by developmental homeostasis.
PMCID: PMC3108808  PMID: 21504912
Arabidopsis; Carica papaya; bisexual flowers; carpeloidy; ectopic ovules; evo-devo; feminization; floral development; sex conversion; sup1 mutants
7.  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.
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.
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.
PMCID: PMC2533616  PMID: 17428835
Floral symmetry; Ranunculales; perianth; androecium; stamen; spur; merism; evo-devo
8.  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.
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.
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.
PMCID: PMC2759219  PMID: 17906327
Fabales; Leguminosae; eurosids I; floral ontogeny; Polygalaceae; Quillajaceae; Surianaceae; floral symmetry
9.  The Discovery of Polyandry in Curculigo (Hypoxidaceae): Implications for Androecium Evolution of Asparagoid Monocotyledons 
Annals of Botany  2007;100(2):241-248.
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.
Key Results
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.
PMCID: PMC2735314  PMID: 17565969
Monocots; lower Asparagales; floral development; SEM; floral mutants; androecium; gynoecium; Orchidaceae
10.  False paracarpy in Seemannaralia (Araliaceae): from bilocular ovary to unilocular fruit 
Annals of Botany  2010;106(1):29-36.
Background and Aims
Seemannaralia appears to be fundamentally different from all other Araliaceae in the presence of a well-developed symplicate zone in its gynoecium, as well as in the ovule insertion in the symplicate zone (rather than in the cross-zone). The present investigation re-examined the floral structure of Seemannaralia with emphasis on the morphology and evolution of its gynoecium.
Flowers and fruits of Seemannaralia gerrardii at various developmental stages were examined using light microscopy and scanning electron microscopy.
Key Results
Ovaries in the flowers of Seemannaralia are bilocular. Each ovary locule corresponds to a carpel whose ascidiate part is distinctly longer than the plicate part. Each carpel contains one fertile ovule attached to the cross-zone, and one sterile ovule as well. The fruit is unilocular: its central cavity is occupied by a single large seed. In the course of fruit development, the growth of one ovule stops while another ovule develops into the mature seed. When this ovule outgrows the available space in the locule, the septum is ruptured, forming a united cavity of two carpels.
Despite literature data, the synascidiate zone is well developed in the gynoecium of Seemannaralia, and the ovules are attached to the cross-zone. Its preanthetic and anthetic gynoecium has nearly the same structure as gynoecia of most other Araliaceae. The Seemannaralia fruit resembles the paracarpous gynoecium but its ground plan is very different because the central cavity is formed by mechanical rupture of the septum. The term ‘pseudoparacarpy’ (‘false paracarpy’) is proposed to describe this condition, which has not been reported to date for indehiscent fruits in any taxa other than Seemannaralia. In this genus, the pseudoparacarpy has probably resulted from a decrease in seed number in the course of the transition from zoochory to anemochory.
PMCID: PMC2889795  PMID: 20462851
Anatomy; Apiales; Araliaceae; development; flower; fruit; gynoecium; paracarpy; Seemannaralia gerrardii; syncarpy
11.  A putative lipase gene EXTRA GLUME1 regulates both empty-glume fate and spikelet development in rice 
The Plant Journal   2008;57(4):593-605.
Recent studies have shown that molecular control of inner floral organ identity appears to be largely conserved between monocots and dicots, but little is known regarding the molecular mechanism underlying development of the monocot outer floral organ, a unique floral structure in grasses. In this study, we report the cloning of the rice EXTRA GLUME1 (EG1) gene, a putative lipase gene that specifies empty-glume fate and floral meristem determinacy. In addition to affecting the identity and number of empty glumes, mutations in EG1 caused ectopic floral organs to be formed at each organ whorl or in extra ectopic whorls. Iterative glume-like structures or new floral organ primordia were formed in the presumptive region of the carpel, resulting in an indeterminate floral meristem. EG1 is expressed strongly in inflorescence primordia and weakly in developing floral primordia. We also found that the floral meristem and organ identity gene OsLHS1 showed altered expression with respect to both pattern and levels in the eg1 mutant, and is probably responsible for the pleiotropic floral defects in eg1. As a putative class III lipase that functionally differs from any known plant lipase, EG1 reveals a novel pathway that regulates rice empty-glume fate and spikelet development.
PMCID: PMC2667685  PMID: 18980657
empty glume; spikelet development; floral meristem; lipase; rice
12.  Floral Development in the Tribe Cedreleae (Meliaceae, Sub-family Swietenioideae): Cedrela and Toona 
Annals of Botany  2007;101(1):39-48.
Background and Aims
Floral development of Cedrela and Toona, the genera comprising the basal tribe Cedreleae of the sub-family Swietenioideae of Meliaceae, is described. The focus was on three endangered, ecologically and economically important species: Cedrela fissilis, Cedrela odorata and Toona ciliata. The aims of the study were to characterize the patterns of floral development in the tribe and to establish apomorphic and plesiomorphic floral characters in relation to other taxa within the family based on the current molecular phylogeny of Meliaceae.
A detailed floral structural and developmental study was completed using both scanning electron microscopy and visualization of microtome sections with a light microscope.
Key Results
Twelve floral developmental stages were identified. The initial development of the pentamerous flowers of both Toona and Cedrela is strikingly similar. The morphological differences observed between them are due to differential patterns of organ elongation and adnation/connation occurring late in development. Additionally, the formation of functionally male and female flowers was found to occur at specific positions within the inflorescence.
Due to the basal position of the tribe Cedreleae in the phylogeny of Meliaceae, functionally either male or female pentamerous flowers and the presence of (at least partially) free stamens may be considered plesiomorphic traits within the family. In contrast, sympetaly and the absence of nectaries in Cedrela species are synapomorphies.
PMCID: PMC2701842  PMID: 17981877
Cedrela fissilis; Cedrela odorata; floral development; morpho-anatomy; sex distribution; Toona ciliata
13.  Within and between Whorls: Comparative Transcriptional Profiling of Aquilegia and Arabidopsis 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(3):e9735.
The genus Aquilegia is an emerging model system in plant evolutionary biology predominantly because of its wide variation in floral traits and associated floral ecology. The anatomy of the Aquilegia flower is also very distinct. There are two whorls of petaloid organs, the outer whorl of sepals and the second whorl of petals that form nectar spurs, as well as a recently evolved fifth whorl of staminodia inserted between stamens and carpels.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We designed an oligonucleotide microarray based on EST sequences from a mixed tissue, normalized cDNA library of an A. formosa x A. pubescens F2 population representing 17,246 unigenes. We then used this array to analyze floral gene expression in late pre-anthesis stage floral organs from a natural A. formosa population. In particular, we tested for gene expression patterns specific to each floral whorl and to combinations of whorls that correspond to traditional and modified ABC model groupings. Similar analyses were performed on gene expression data of Arabidopsis thaliana whorls previously obtained using the Ath1 gene chips (data available through The Arabidopsis Information Resource).
Our comparative gene expression analyses suggest that 1) petaloid sepals and petals of A. formosa share gene expression patterns more than either have organ-specific patterns, 2) petals of A. formosa and A. thaliana may be independently derived, 3) staminodia express B and C genes similar to stamens but the staminodium genetic program has also converged on aspects of the carpel program and 4) staminodia have unique up-regulation of regulatory genes and genes that have been implicated with defense against microbial infection and herbivory. Our study also highlights the value of comparative gene expression profiling and the Aquilegia microarray in particular for the study of floral evolution and ecology.
PMCID: PMC2843724  PMID: 20352114
14.  Expression of floral MADS-box genes in Sinofranchetia chinensis (Lardizabalaceae): implications for the nature of the nectar leaves 
Annals of Botany  2012;110(1):57-69.
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.
Key Results
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.
PMCID: PMC3380600  PMID: 22652421
Nectar leaves; perianth; petals; Ranunculales; Lardizabalaceae; Sinofranchetia chinensis; MADS-box; expression pattern; evolutionary developmental biology
15.  The evolution of floral biology in basal angiosperms 
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.
PMCID: PMC2838258  PMID: 20047868
basal angiosperms; floral biology; floral structure; flower evolution; pollination biology
16.  Simulation of Organ Patterning on the Floral Meristem Using a Polar Auxin Transport Model 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(1):e28762.
An intriguing phenomenon in plant development is the timing and positioning of lateral organ initiation, which is a fundamental aspect of plant architecture. Although important progress has been made in elucidating the role of auxin transport in the vegetative shoot to explain the phyllotaxis of leaf formation in a spiral fashion, a model study of the role of auxin transport in whorled organ patterning in the expanding floral meristem is not available yet. We present an initial simulation approach to study the mechanisms that are expected to play an important role. Starting point is a confocal imaging study of Arabidopsis floral meristems at consecutive time points during flower development. These images reveal auxin accumulation patterns at the positions of the organs, which strongly suggests that the role of auxin in the floral meristem is similar to the role it plays in the shoot apical meristem. This is the basis for a simulation study of auxin transport through a growing floral meristem, which may answer the question whether auxin transport can in itself be responsible for the typical whorled floral pattern. We combined a cellular growth model for the meristem with a polar auxin transport model. The model predicts that sepals are initiated by auxin maxima arising early during meristem outgrowth. These form a pre-pattern relative to which a series of smaller auxin maxima are positioned, which partially overlap with the anlagen of petals, stamens, and carpels. We adjusted the model parameters corresponding to properties of floral mutants and found that the model predictions agree with the observed mutant patterns. The predicted timing of the primordia outgrowth and the timing and positioning of the sepal primordia show remarkable similarities with a developing flower in nature.
PMCID: PMC3264561  PMID: 22291882
17.  The progamic phase of an early-divergent angiosperm, Annona cherimola (Annonaceae) 
Annals of Botany  2009;105(2):221-231.
Background and Aims
Recent studies of reproductive biology in ancient angiosperm lineages are beginning to shed light on the early evolution of flowering plants, but comparative studies are restricted by fragmented and meagre species representation in these angiosperm clades. In the present study, the progamic phase, from pollination to fertilization, is characterized in Annona cherimola, which is a member of the Annonaceae, the largest extant family among early-divergent angiosperms. Beside interest due to its phylogenetic position, this species is also an ancient crop with a clear niche for expansion in subtropical climates.
The kinetics of the reproductive process was established following controlled pollinations and sequential fixation. Gynoecium anatomy, pollen tube pathway, embryo sac and early post-fertilization events were characterized histochemically.
Key Results
A plesiomorphic gynoecium with a semi-open carpel shows a continuous secretory papillar surface along the carpel margins, which run from the stigma down to the obturator in the ovary. The pollen grains germinate in the stigma and compete in the stigma-style interface to reach the narrow secretory area that lines the margins of the semi-open stylar canal and is able to host just one to three pollen tubes. The embryo sac has eight nuclei and is well provisioned with large starch grains that are used during early cellular endosperm development.
A plesiomorphic simple gynoecium hosts a simple pollen–pistil interaction, based on a support–control system of pollen tube growth. Support is provided through basipetal secretory activity in the cells that line the pollen tube pathway. Spatial constraints, favouring pollen tube competition, are mediated by a dramatic reduction in the secretory surface available for pollen tube growth at the stigma–style interface. This extramural pollen tube competition contrasts with the intrastylar competition predominant in more recently derived lineages of angiosperms.
PMCID: PMC2814751  PMID: 19939980
Annona cherimola; Annonaceae; embryo sac; endosperm; Magnoliid; ovule; pollen–pistil interaction; pollen tube
18.  Large scale interaction analysis predicts that the Gerbera hybrida floral E function is provided both by general and specialized proteins 
BMC Plant Biology  2010;10:129.
The ornamental plant Gerbera hybrida bears complex inflorescences with morphologically distinct floral morphs that are specific to the sunflower family Asteraceae. We have previously characterized several MADS box genes that regulate floral development in Gerbera. To study further their behavior in higher order complex formation according to the quartet model, we performed yeast two- and three-hybrid analysis with fourteen Gerbera MADS domain proteins to analyze their protein-protein interaction potential.
The exhaustive pairwise interaction analysis showed significant differences in the interaction capacity of different Gerbera MADS domain proteins compared to other model plants. Of particular interest in these assays was the behavior of SEP-like proteins, known as GRCDs in Gerbera. The previously described GRCD1 and GRCD2 proteins, which are specific regulators involved in stamen and carpel development, respectively, showed very limited pairwise interactions, whereas the related GRCD4 and GRCD5 factors displayed hub-like positions in the interaction map. We propose GRCD4 and GRCD5 to provide a redundant and general E function in Gerbera, comparable to the SEP proteins in Arabidopsis. Based on the pairwise interaction data, combinations of MADS domain proteins were further subjected to yeast three-hybrid assays. Gerbera B function proteins showed active behavior in ternary complexes. All Gerbera SEP-like proteins with the exception of GRCD1 were excellent partners for B function proteins, further implicating the unique role of GRCD1 as a whorl- and flower-type specific C function partner.
Gerbera MADS domain proteins exhibit both conserved and derived behavior in higher order protein complex formation. This protein-protein interaction data can be used to classify and compare Gerbera MADS domain proteins to those of Arabidopsis and Petunia. Combined with our reverse genetic studies of Gerbera, these results reinforce the roles of different genes in the floral development of Gerbera. Building up the elaborate capitulum of Gerbera calls for modifications and added complexity in MADS domain protein behavior compared to the more simple flowers of, e.g., Arabidopsis.
PMCID: PMC3017775  PMID: 20579338
19.  Functional Monoecy Due to Delayed Anther Dehiscence: A Novel Mechanism in Pseuduvaria mulgraveana (Annonaceae) 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e59951.
Unlike most genera in the early-divergent angiosperm family Annonaceae, Pseuduvaria exhibits a diversity of floral sex expression. Most species are structurally andromonoecious (or possibly androdioecious), although the hermaphroditic flowers have been inferred to be functionally pistillate, with sterile staminodes. Pseuduvaria presents an ideal model for investigating the evolution of floral sex in early-divergent angiosperms, although detailed empirical studies are currently lacking. The phenology and pollination ecology of the Australian endemic species Pseuduvaria mulgraveana are studied in detail, including evaluations of floral scent chemistry, pollen viability, and floral visitors. Results showed that the flowers are pollinated by small diurnal nitidulid beetles and are protogynous. Pollen from both hermaphroditic and staminate flowers are shown to be equally viable. The structurally hermaphroditic flowers are nevertheless functionally pistillate as anther dehiscence is delayed until after petal abscission and hence after the departure of pollinators. This mechanism to achieve functional unisexuality of flowers has not previously been reported in angiosperms. It is known that protogyny is widespread amongst early-divergent angiosperms, including the Annonaceae, and is effective in preventing autogamy. Delayed anther dehiscence represents a further elaboration of this, and is effective in preventing geitonogamy since very few sexually mature flowers occur simultaneously in an individual. We highlight the necessity for field-based empirical interpretations of functional floral sex expression prior to evaluations of evolutionary processes.
PMCID: PMC3608580  PMID: 23555844
20.  Floral development and anatomy of Salvadoraceae 
Annals of Botany  2009;104(5):913-923.
Background and Aims
This study is an investigation into the floral development and anatomy of two genera of the small family Salvadoraceae, which belongs to the Brassicales in a clade with Batis and Koeberlinia. Salvadoraceae remains little known, despite its wide distribution in arid areas of the globe. Floral morphological data are scarce, and information on floral anatomy is limited to a single study, although morphological and anatomical characters are now used increasingly as a counterpart of molecular data. There remain a number of controversial morphological questions, such as the fusion of the petals, the number of carpels and the nature of the nectaries.
Floral anatomy and ontogeny were studied in two species of Salvadora and one species of Dobera. Only for S. persica could a full floral developmental sequence be done.
Key Results
The floral development demonstrates that the ovary of Salvadoraceae is basically bicarpellate and pseudomonomerous with a single locule and parietal placenta. The ovary of Dobera resembles Azima tetracantha in the presence of a false apical septum. Evidence for a staminodial nature of the nectaries is not decisive. In Salvadora petals and stamens are lifted by a short hypanthium.
Salvadoraceae share several morphological and developmental synapomorphies with Batis (Bataceae) and possibly Koeberlinia (Koeberliniaceae), supporting their close relationship as indicated by molecular phylogeny.
PMCID: PMC2749543  PMID: 19640890
Batis; Brassicales; Dobera; Emblingia; floral development; floral anatomy; Koeberlinia; phylogeny; Salvadora; Salvadoraceae; SEM
21.  Floral Ontogeny of the Afro-Madagascan Genus Mitrasacmopsis with Comments on the Development of Superior Ovaries in Rubiaceae 
Annals of Botany  2007;100(1):41-49.
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.
Key Results
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.
PMCID: PMC2735299  PMID: 17557833
Mitrasacmopsis quadrivalvis; Gaertnera; floral ontogeny; gynoecial development; epigyny; secondary semi-inferior; secondary superior; scanning electron and light microscopy
22.  Floral Anatomy of Paepalanthoideae (Eriocaulaceae, Poales) and their Nectariferous Structures 
Annals of Botany  2006;99(1):131-139.
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.
Key Results
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.
PMCID: PMC2802974  PMID: 17085472
Eriocaulaceae; Paepalanthoideae; nectariferous structures; staminodes; staminate flowers; pistillate flowers; floral anatomy; monocotyledons; Poales
23.  Floral homeotic C function genes repress specific B function genes in the carpel whorl of the basal eudicot California poppy (Eschscholzia californica) 
EvoDevo  2010;1:13.
The floral homeotic C function gene AGAMOUS (AG) confers stamen and carpel identity and is involved in the regulation of floral meristem termination in Arabidopsis. Arabidopsis ag mutants show complete homeotic conversions of stamens into petals and carpels into sepals as well as indeterminacy of the floral meristem. Gene function analysis in model core eudicots and the monocots rice and maize suggest a conserved function for AG homologs in angiosperms. At the same time gene phylogenies reveal a complex history of gene duplications and repeated subfunctionalization of paralogs.
EScaAG1 and EScaAG2, duplicate AG homologs in the basal eudicot Eschscholzia californica show a high degree of similarity in sequence and expression, although EScaAG2 expression is lower than EScaAG1 expression. Functional studies employing virus-induced gene silencing (VIGS) demonstrate that knock down of EScaAG1 and 2 function leads to homeotic conversion of stamens into petaloid structures and defects in floral meristem termination. However, carpels are transformed into petaloid organs rather than sepaloid structures. We also show that a reduction of EScaAG1 and EScaAG2 expression leads to significantly increased expression of a subset of floral homeotic B genes.
This work presents expression and functional analysis of the two basal eudicot AG homologs. The reduction of EScaAG1 and 2 functions results in the change of stamen to petal identity and a transformation of the central whorl organ identity from carpel into petal identity. Petal identity requires the presence of the floral homeotic B function and our results show that the expression of a subset of B function genes extends into the central whorl when the C function is reduced. We propose a model for the evolution of B function regulation by C function suggesting that the mode of B function gene regulation found in Eschscholzia is ancestral and the C-independent regulation as found in Arabidopsis is evolutionarily derived.
PMCID: PMC3012024  PMID: 21122096
24.  Establishment of zygomorphy on an ontogenic spiral and evolution of perianth in the tribe Delphinieae (Ranunculaceae) 
Annals of Botany  2009;104(5):809-822.
Background and Aims
Ranunculaceae presents both ancestral and derived floral traits for eudicots, and as such is of potential interest to understand key steps involved in the evolution of zygomorphy in eudicots. Zygomorphy evolved once in Ranunculaceae, in the speciose and derived tribe Delphinieae. This tribe consists of two genera (Aconitum and Delphinium s.l.) comprising more than one-quarter of the species of the family. In this paper, the establishment of zygomorphy during development was investigated to cast light on the origin and evolution of this morphological novelty.
The floral developmental sequence of six species of Ranunculaceae, three actinomorphic (Nigella damascena, Aquilegia alpina and Clematis recta) and three zygomorphic (Aconitum napellus, Delphinium staphisagria and D. grandiflorum), was compared. A developmental model was elaborated to break down the successive acquisitions of floral organ identities on the ontogenic spiral (all the species studied except Aquilegia have a spiral phyllotaxis), giving clues to understanding this complex morphogenesis from an evo-devo point of view. In addition, the evolution of symmetry in Ranunculaceae was examined in conjunction with other traits of flowers and with ecological factors.
Key Results
In the species studied, zygomorphy is established after organogenesis is completed, and is late, compared with other zygomorphic eudicot species. Zygomorphy occurs in flowers characterized by a fixed merism and a partially reduced and transformed corolla.
It is suggested that shifts in expression of genes controlling the merism, as well as floral symmetry and organ identity, have played a critical role in the evolution of zygomorphy in Delphinieae, while the presence of pollinators able to exploit the peculiar morphology of the flower has been a key factor for the maintenance and diversification of this trait.
PMCID: PMC2749547  PMID: 19608573
Delphinieae; development; evolution; evo-devo; nectar spurs; ontogenic spiral; Ranunculaceae; zygomorphy
25.  A model for Arabidopsis class-1 KNOX gene function 
Plant Signaling & Behavior  2008;3(4):257-259.
The Arabidopsis class-1 KNOX genes STM, BP/KNAT1, KNAT2 and KNAT6 encode homeodomain transcriptional regulators important for shoot apical meristem (SAM) and carpel development. During vegetative growth, STM is required to establish and maintain the stem cell pool of the SAM, a function replaceable by ectopic expression of BP/KNAT1 but not of other class-1 KNOX genes. We recently demonstrated additional STM roles in the development of the central floral whorl and subsequent formation of carpels, a function replaceable by ectopic KNAT2 expression. However, STM is normally required for BP/KNAT1 and KNAT2 expression, explaining why it is essential for both SAM and carpel development. We propose therefore that STM provides the critical KNOX function in these processes and that the SAM- and carpel-promoting activities of STM are redundantly duplicated in BP/KNAT1 and KNAT2 respectively. Here we show that ectopic KNAT2 expression can restore carpel development to stm mutants, but fails to restore proper development of the central floral whorl, which requires a function analogous to the SAM-promoting activities of STM and BP/KNAT1. Similarly, we show that ectopic KNAT2 expression does not restore normal meristem organisation to the SAM. We propose a model for discrete and overlapping class-1 KNOX gene function in Arabidopsis.
PMCID: PMC2634195  PMID: 19704647
KNOX gene; SHOOT MERISTEMLESS; KNAT; meristem; carpel; stem cell; KNOTTED

Results 1-25 (825674)