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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.  Floral Morphogenesis in Euptelea (Eupteleaceae, Ranunculales) 
Annals of Botany  2007;100(2):185-193.
Background and Aims
Based on molecular phylogenetic studies, the unigeneric family Eupteleaceae has a prominent phylogenetic position at or near the base of Ranunculales, which, in turn, appear at the base of eudicots. The aim of the present paper is to reveal developmental features of the flowers and to put the genus in a morphological context with other basal eudicots.
Flowers in all developmental stages of Euptelea pleiosperma were collected in the wild at intervals of 7–10 d in the critical stages and studied with a scanning electron microscope.
Key Results
Remnants of a perianth are lacking throughout flower development. Floral symmetry changes from monosymmetric to asymmetric to disymmetric during development. Asymmetry is expressed in that the sequence of stamen initiation is from the centre to both lateral sides on the adaxial side of the flower but starting from one lateral side and proceeding to the other on the abaxial side. Despite the pronounced floral disymmetry, a dimerous pattern of floral organs was not found. The carpel primordia arise between the already large stamens and alternate with them. Stamens and carpels each form a somewhat irregular whorl. The carpels are ascidiate from the beginning. The stigma differentiates as two crests along the ventral slit of the ovary. The few lateral ovules alternate with each other.
Although the flowers have some unusual autapomorphies (wind pollination, lack of a perianth, pronounced disymmetry of the floral base, long connective protrusion, long temporal gap between androecium and gynoecium initiation, small space for carpel initiation), they show some plesiomorphies at the level of basal eudicots (free carpels, basifixed anthers, whorled phyllotaxis), and thus fit well in Ranunculales.
PMCID: PMC2735319  PMID: 17550909
Basal eudicots; Euptelea; Eupteleaceae; floral development; floral phyllotaxis; floral symmetry; Ranunculales; systematics
3.  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.
PMCID: PMC4242220  PMID: 15451722
Aextoxicon; Berberidopsidales; Berberidopsis; core Eudicots; Streptothamnus; bracteotepals; floral development, petals; phylogeny; phyllotaxis; scanning electron microscope
4.  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
5.  Molecular basis of floral petaloidy: insights from androecia of Canna indica 
AoB Plants  2014;6:plu015.
Floral organs usually take on the characteristics of petals in ginger plants. In Canna indica, the most ornamental parts of the flowers are considered to be staminode, which means rudimentary and sterile stamen. However, the precise nature of these petaloid organs is yet to be determined. Two floral organ identity genes GLOBOSA (GLO) and AGAMOUS (AG) are isolated from Canna indica. Their expression patterns suggest that petaloid staminodes and labellum are of androecium identity, in agreement with their position within the flower. But the current molecular, morphological and anatomical data, are still not sufficient to explain the distinct morphology observed in staminodes and fertile stamen in Canna indica.
Floral organs that take on the characteristics of petals can occur in all whorls of the monocot order Zingiberales. In Canna indica, the most ornamental or ‘petaloid’ parts of the flowers are of androecial origin and are considered staminodes. However, the precise nature of these petaloid organs is yet to be determined. In order to gain a better understanding of the genetic basis of androecial identity, a molecular investigation of B- and C-class genes was carried out. Two MADS-box genes GLOBOSA (GLO) and AGAMOUS (AG) were isolated from young inflorescences of C. indica by 3′ rapid amplification of cDNA ends polymerase chain reaction (3′-RACE PCR). Sequence characterization and phylogenetic analyses show that CiGLO and CiAG belong to the B- and C-class MADS-box gene family, respectively. CiAG is expressed in petaloid staminodes, the labellum, the fertile stamen and carpels. CiGLO is expressed in petals, petaloid staminodes, the labellum, the fertile stamen and carpels. Expression patterns in mature tissues of CiGLO and CiAG suggest that petaloid staminodes and the labellum are of androecial identity, in agreement with their position within the flower and with described Arabidopsis thaliana expression patterns. Although B- and C-class genes are important components of androecial determination, their expression patterns are not sufficient to explain the distinct morphology observed in staminodes and the fertile stamen in C. indica.
PMCID: PMC4011470  PMID: 24876297
ABC model; Canna indica; floral organ identity; MADS-box gene; phylogenetic analysis; real-time PCR.
6.  Quantitative Developmental Analysis of Homeotic Changes in the Inflorescence of Philodendron (Araceae) 
Annals of Botany  2008;101(7):1027-1034.
Background and Aims
The inflorescence of Philodendron constitutes an interesting morphological model to analyse the phenomenon of homeosis quantitatively at the floral level. The specific goals of this study were (1) to characterize and quantify the range of homeotic transformation in Philodendron billietiae, and (2) to test the hypothesis that the nature of flowers surrounding atypical bisexual flowers (ABFs) channel the morphological potentialities of atypical bisexual flowers.
Inflorescences of P. billietiae at different stages of development were observed using SEM. The number of appendices in male, female and sterile flowers were counted on 11 young inflorescences (5–6 flowers per inflorescence). The number of staminodes and carpels on ABFs were counted on 19 inflorescences (n = 143). These data were used for regression and ANOVA analyses.
There was an average of 4·1 stamens per male flower, 9·8 carpels per female flower and 6·8 staminodes per sterile male flower. There was an average of 7·3 floral appendices per atypical flower. Staminodes and carpels are inserted on the same whorl in ABFs. A negative exponential relationship was found between the average number of staminodes and the number of carpels in ABFs. If only the ABFs consisting of less than six carpels are considered, there is a linear relationship between the number of carpels and the average number of staminodes. The value of the slope of the regression equation indicates that on average, in P. billietiae, 1·36 carpels are replaced by one staminode.
In P. billietiae, the number of appendages in female flowers imposes a constraint on the maximum total number of appendages (carpels and staminodes) that can develop on ABFs. The quantitative analyses indicate that the average number of different types of floral appendages on an ABF and the number of organs involved in a homeotic transformation are two independent phenomena.
PMCID: PMC2710224  PMID: 18356291
Philodendron; positional information; gradient; flower; homeosis; developmental constraint
7.  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
8.  Study of Homeosis in the Flower of Philodendron (Araceae): a Qualitative and Quantitative Approach 
Annals of Botany  2002;90(5):579-592.
This study deals specifically with floral organogenesis and the development of the inflorescence of Philodendron squamiferum and P. pedatum. Pistillate flowers are initiated on the lower portion of the inflorescence and staminate flowers are initiated on the distal portion. An intermediate zone consisting of sterile male flowers and atypical bisexual flowers with fused or free carpels and staminodes is also present. This zone is located between the sterile male and female floral zones. In general, the portion of bisexual flowers facing the male zone forms staminodes, and the portion facing the female zone develops an incomplete gynoecium with few carpels. The incomplete separation of some staminodes from the gynoecial portion of the whorl shows that they belong to the same whorl as the carpels. There are two levels of aberrant floral structures in Philodendron. The first one is represented by the presence of atypical bisexual flowers, which are intermediates between typical female flowers and typical sterile male flowers. The second one is the presence of intermediate structures between typical carpels and typical staminodes on a single atypical bisexual flower. The atypical bisexual flowers of P. squamiferum and P. pedatum are believed to be a case of homeosis where carpels have been replaced by sterile stamens on the same whorl. A quantitative analysis indicates that in both species, on average, one staminode replaces one carpel.
PMCID: PMC4240444  PMID: 12466098
Inflorescence; development; positional information; sex determination
9.  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
10.  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
11.  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
12.  The ERECTA receptor kinase regulates Arabidopsis shoot apical meristem size, phyllotaxy and floral meristem identity 
Development (Cambridge, England)  2014;141(4):830-841.
In plants, the shoot apical meristem (SAM) serves as a reservoir of pluripotent stem cells from which all above ground organs originate. To sustain proper growth, the SAM must maintain homeostasis between the self-renewal of pluripotent stem cells and cell recruitment for lateral organ formation. At the core of the network that regulates this homeostasis in Arabidopsis are the WUSCHEL (WUS) transcription factor specifying stem cell fate and the CLAVATA (CLV) ligand-receptor system limiting WUS expression. In this study, we identified the ERECTA (ER) pathway as a second receptor kinase signaling pathway that regulates WUS expression, and therefore shoot apical and floral meristem size, independently of the CLV pathway. We demonstrate that reduction in class III HD-ZIP and ER function together leads to a significant increase in WUS expression, resulting in extremely enlarged shoot meristems and a switch from spiral to whorled vegetative phyllotaxy. We further show that strong upregulation of WUS in the inflorescence meristem leads to ectopic expression of the AGAMOUS homeotic gene to a level that switches cell fate from floral meristem founder cell to carpel founder cell, suggesting an indirect role for ER in regulating floral meristem identity. This work illustrates the delicate balance between stem cell specification and differentiation in the meristem and shows that a shift in this balance leads to abnormal phyllotaxy and to altered reproductive cell fate.
PMCID: PMC3930468  PMID: 24496620
13.  Racemose inflorescences of monocots: structural and morphogenetic interaction at the flower/inflorescence level 
Annals of Botany  2012;112(8):1553-1566.
Understanding and modelling early events of floral meristem patterning and floral development requires consideration of positional information regarding the organs surrounding the floral meristem, such as the flower-subtending bracts (FSBs) and floral prophylls (bracteoles). In common with models of regulation of floral patterning, the simplest models of phyllotaxy consider only unbranched uniaxial systems. Racemose inflorescences and thyrses offer a useful model system for investigating morphogenetic interactions between organs belonging to different axes.
This review considers (1) racemose inflorescences of early-divergent and lilioid monocots and their possible relationship with other inflorescence types, (2) hypotheses on the morphogenetic significance of phyllomes surrounding developing flowers, (3) patterns of FSB reduction and (4) vascular patterns in the primary inflorescence axis and lateral pedicels.
Racemose (partial) inflorescences represent the plesiomorphic condition in monocots. The presence or absence of a terminal flower or flower-like structure is labile among early-divergent monocots. In some Alismatales, a few-flowered racemose inflorescence can be entirely transformed into a terminal ‘flower’. The presence or absence and position of additional phyllomes on the lateral pedicels represent important taxonomic markers and key features in regulation of flower patterning. Racemose inflorescences with a single floral prophyll are closely related to thyrses. Floral patterning is either unidirectional or simultaneous in species that lack a floral prophyll or possess a single adaxial floral prophyll and usually spiral in the outer perianth whorl in species with a transversely oriented floral prophyll. Inhibitory fields of surrounding phyllomes are relevant but insufficient to explain these patterns; other important factors are meristem space economy and/or the inhibitory activity of the primary inflorescence axis. Two patterns of FSB reduction exist in basal monocots: (1) complete FSB suppression (cryptic flower-subtending bract) and (2) formation of a ‘hybrid’ organ by overlap of the developmental programmes of the FSB and the first abaxial organ formed on the floral pedicel. FSB reduction affects patterns of interaction between the conductive systems of the flower and the primary inflorescence axis.
PMCID: PMC3828938  PMID: 23172413
Bracteole; flower; flower-subtending bract; inflorescence; inhibitory field; pattern formation; prophyll; regulation of development; vasculature
14.  Comparative transcriptomics among floral organs of the basal eudicot Eschscholzia californica as reference for floral evolutionary developmental studies 
Genome Biology  2010;11(10):R101.
Molecular genetic studies of floral development have concentrated on several core eudicots and grasses (monocots), which have canalized floral forms. Basal eudicots possess a wider range of floral morphologies than the core eudicots and grasses and can serve as an evolutionary link between core eudicots and monocots, and provide a reference for studies of other basal angiosperms. Recent advances in genomics have enabled researchers to profile gene activities during floral development, primarily in the eudicot Arabidopsis thaliana and the monocots rice and maize. However, our understanding of floral developmental processes among the basal eudicots remains limited.
Using a recently generated expressed sequence tag (EST) set, we have designed an oligonucleotide microarray for the basal eudicot Eschscholzia californica (California poppy). We performed microarray experiments with an interwoven-loop design in order to characterize the E. californica floral transcriptome and to identify differentially expressed genes in flower buds with pre-meiotic and meiotic cells, four floral organs at pre-anthesis stages (sepals, petals, stamens and carpels), developing fruits, and leaves.
Our results provide a foundation for comparative gene expression studies between eudicots and basal angiosperms. We identified whorl-specific gene expression patterns in E. californica and examined the floral expression of several gene families. Interestingly, most E. californica homologs of Arabidopsis genes important for flower development, except for genes encoding MADS-box transcription factors, show different expression patterns between the two species. Our comparative transcriptomics study highlights the unique evolutionary position of E. californica compared with basal angiosperms and core eudicots.
PMCID: PMC3218657  PMID: 20950453
15.  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
16.  Tracking the development of the petaloid fertile stamen in Canna indica: insights into the origin of androecial petaloidy in the Zingiberales 
AoB Plants  2013;5:plt009.
The order Zingiberales comprises ∼2500 species of tropical to subtropical plants, including agriculturally (e.g. banana, ginger) and horticulturally (e.g. cannas, heliconias, bird-of-paradise) important plants. Throughout the evolution of this order, the stamens have been modified from the ancestral filamentous structures that produce pollen (seen in Banana flowers) to petal-like structures that no longer bear pollen sacs (seen in Canna flowers). This results in a reduction of pollen, but an effective increase in the overall size of the floral display and perhaps in the efficacy of specialized pollinators by converting stamens into ‘petals’. This study investigates the genetic mechanisms that are involved in making petal-like structures in place of pollen-producing stamens.
Flowers of the order Zingiberales demonstrate a remarkable trend of reduction in the number of fertile stamens; from five or six fertile, filamentous stamens bearing two thecae each in Musaceae and Strelitziaceae to just a single petaloid stamen bearing a single theca in Cannaceae and Marantaceae. As one progresses from ancestral to derived floral forms, 5–6 fertile stamens are replaced by 4–5 petaloid staminodes. In Cannaceae and Costaceae, all members of the androecial whorls exhibit petaloidy, including the fertile stamen. In Costaceae, a single fertile stamen develops two thecae embedded on a broad petaloid appendage, while in Cannaceae the single fertile stamen is further reduced to a single theca with a prominent, expanded petaloid appendage. Whether petaloidy of the fertile stamen is a synapomorphy of the entire ginger clade (including Cannaceae, Costaceae, Zingiberaceae and Marantaceae), or the result of independent convergent evolution in Cannaceae, Costaceae, and some Zingiberaceae, is unclear. We combine a developmental series of the formation of the petaloid fertile stamen in Canna indica with data on the expression of B- and C-class floral organ identity genes to elucidate the organogenetic identity of the petaloid stamen and staminodes. Our data indicate that the single fertile theca in C. indica and its petaloid appendage are derived from one-half of the primordium of a single stamen, with no contribution from the remaining part of the stamen (i.e. the second theca primordium) which aborts early in development. The petaloid appendage expands later, and develops from the position of the filament/connective of the developing theca. Floral identity gene expression shows that petal identity genes (i.e. B-class genes) are expressed in all floral organs studied while C-class gene AG-1 is expressed in an increasing gradient from sepals to gynoecium, and AG-2 is expressed in all floral organs except the petals. The canonical model for molecular specification of floral organ identity is not sufficient to explain petaloidy in the androecial whorl in Canna sp. Further studies understanding the regulation of gene networks are required.
PMCID: PMC3608240  PMID: 23539493
Canna; evo-devo; floral development; MADS-box genes; petaloid stamens; petaloidy; Zingiberales
17.  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
18.  Fusion within and between whorls of floral organs in Galipeinae (Rutaceae): structural features and evolutionary implications 
Annals of Botany  2013;111(5):821-837.
Background and Aims
Most genera of the neotropical Galipeinae (tribe Galipeeae, Rutoideae) exhibit several forms and degrees of fusion between the floral organs, including the union of petals into an apparently sympetalous corolla, the joining of the stamens among themselves and to the corolla, and the partial to complete connation of carpels. Though these and others floral traits are currently used in the circumscription of species in Galipeinae, few studies have shown in detail in which way (postgenital or congenital) and to what extent these fusions occur. To elucidate these anatomical conditions, a structural study of the flowers of the Galipeinae species was carried out.
Flowers of six species from three genera of Galipeinae were studied in their morphology, anatomy and development with stereomicroscopy, light microscopy and scanning electron microscopy (SEM).
Key Results
The floral tube is formed by synorganization of stamens with petals in all species, and exhibits three main patterns: (1) Conchocarpus heterophyllus and C. minutiflorus have a floral tube formed by marginal coherence/adherence of petals and filaments due to interwining trichomes (postgenital connection); (2) Erythrochiton brasiliensis has a tube formed by congenital fusion of petals and filaments; and (3) Galipea jasminiflora and Conchocarpus macrophyllus have a tube formed distally with the first pattern, and proximally with the second pattern. Although floral tubes seem to be homologous within Galipeinae, this is not true at the level of the family: the floral tube of Correa (from an only distantly related clade of the family) is formed by postgenital union of the petals representing a convergent structure. The gynoecium of the studied species of Galipeinae shows a great variability in the extent of fusion of carpel flanks. Even though different structures for the mature gynoecium were found in each genus, all genera show postgenitally fused carpel apices, which is related to the formation of a compitum, as described earlier for other members of Rutaceae.
The degree and diversity of fusions of floral organs in Galipeinae is unique within the order Sapindales. A study of the amount of diversification of Galipeinae in South America and comparison with other clades of Rutaceae would be of interest.
PMCID: PMC3631327  PMID: 23463590
Floral anatomy; floral tubes; floral morphology; false sympetaly; partial apocarpy; syncarpy; postgenital union; floral development
19.  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
20.  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
21.  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
22.  Target Genes of the MADS Transcription Factor SEPALLATA3: Integration of Developmental and Hormonal Pathways in the Arabidopsis Flower 
PLoS Biology  2009;7(4):e1000090.
The molecular mechanisms by which floral homeotic genes act as major developmental switches to specify the identity of floral organs are still largely unknown. Floral homeotic genes encode transcription factors of the MADS-box family, which are supposed to assemble in a combinatorial fashion into organ-specific multimeric protein complexes. Major mediators of protein interactions are MADS-domain proteins of the SEPALLATA subfamily, which play a crucial role in the development of all types of floral organs. In order to characterize the roles of the SEPALLATA3 transcription factor complexes at the molecular level, we analyzed genome-wide the direct targets of SEPALLATA3. We used chromatin immunoprecipitation followed by ultrahigh-throughput sequencing or hybridization to whole-genome tiling arrays to obtain genome-wide DNA-binding patterns of SEPALLATA3. The results demonstrate that SEPALLATA3 binds to thousands of sites in the genome. Most potential target sites that were strongly bound in wild-type inflorescences are also bound in the floral homeotic agamous mutant, which displays only the perianth organs, sepals, and petals. Characterization of the target genes shows that SEPALLATA3 integrates and modulates different growth-related and hormonal pathways in a combinatorial fashion with other MADS-box proteins and possibly with non-MADS transcription factors. In particular, the results suggest multiple links between SEPALLATA3 and auxin signaling pathways. Our gene expression analyses link the genomic binding site data with the phenotype of plants expressing a dominant repressor version of SEPALLATA3, suggesting that it modulates auxin response to facilitate floral organ outgrowth and morphogenesis. Furthermore, the binding of the SEPALLATA3 protein to cis-regulatory elements of other MADS-box genes and expression analyses reveal that this protein is a key component in the regulatory transcriptional network underlying the formation of floral organs.
Author Summary
Most regulatory genes encode transcription factors, which modulate gene expression by binding to regulatory sequences of their target genes. In plants in particular, which genes are directly controlled by these transcription factors, and the molecular mechanisms of target gene recognition in vivo, are still largely unexplored. One of the best-understood developmental processes in plants is flower development. In different combinations, transcription factors of the MADS-box family control the identities of the different types of floral organs: sepals, petals, stamens, and carpels. Here, we present the first genome-wide analysis of binding sites of a MADS-box transcription factor in plants. We show that the MADS-domain protein SEPALLATA3 (SEP3) binds to the regulatory regions of thousands of potential target genes, many of which are also transcription factors. We provide insight into mechanisms of DNA recognition by SEP3, and suggest roles for other transcription factor families in SEP3 target gene regulation. In addition to effects on genes involved in floral organ identity, our data suggest that SEP3 binds to, and modulates, the transcription of target genes involved in hormonal signaling pathways.
The key floral regulator SEPALLATA3 binds to the promoters of a large number of potential direct target genes to integrate different growth-related and hormonal pathways in flower development.
PMCID: PMC2671559  PMID: 19385720
23.  Floral Ontogeny in Scirpus, Eriophorum and Dulichium (Cyperaceae), with Special Reference to the Perianth 
Annals of Botany  2005;95(7):1199-1209.
• Background and Aims Based on molecular phylogenetic analysis, it has been suggested recently that the Cyperaceae comprises only two subfamilies: the Mapanioideae and the Cyperoideae. In most flowers of the Cyperoideae, the whorl of inner stamens is reduced, resulting in tetracyclic flowers. In the more primitive (scirpoid) genera within the Cyperoideae, the perianth consists of two polysymmetric whorls, whereas the perianth parts in the more derived genera have been subject to modifications and/or reduction. Comparative studies of the many silky hairs of Eriophorum and of the eight bristles of Dulichium have given rise to much discussion about their homology.
• Methods The spikelet and floral ontogeny in freshly collected inflorescences was investigated using scanning electron microscopy.
• Key Results Complete floral ontogenies are presented for Scirpus sylvaticus L., Eriophorum latifolium Hoppe and Dulichium arundinaceum (L.) Britton, with special reference to the perianth. The results in S. sylvaticus confirm the trimerous monocot-like organization of the flower. It is used as a model for floral development in Cyperoideae. In the early developmental stages, the androecium of E. latifolium is surrounded by a massive perigonial primordium, from which the many hair-like bristles originate. Consequently, the stamens develop among the hair primordia, more or less simultaneously. The hairs are arranged in whorls, which develop centripetally. The development of the perianth in D. arundinaceum starts with the formation of three initial perianth primordia opposite the stamens. Subsequently, two more abaxial bristle primordia, alternating with the stamens, originate simultaneously with the appearance of three adaxial bristle primordia in the zone where an adaxial inner perianth primordium is expected.
• Conclusions The floral development in E. latifolium and D. arundinaceum can be considered as variations upon the scirpoid floral ontogenetic theme.
PMCID: PMC4246904  PMID: 15788436
Dulichium arundinaceum (L.) Britton; Eriophorum latifolium Hoppe; floral ontogeny; perianth; scirpoid flower; Scirpus sylvaticus L; scanning electron microscopy
24.  Functional analysis of B and C class floral organ genes in spinach demonstrates their role in sexual dimorphism 
BMC Plant Biology  2010;10:46.
Evolution of unisexual flowers entails one of the most extreme changes in plant development. Cultivated spinach, Spinacia oleracea L., is uniquely suited for the study of unisexual flower development as it is dioecious and it achieves unisexually by the absence of organ development, rather than by organ abortion or suppression. Male staminate flowers lack fourth whorl primordia and female pistillate flowers lack third whorl primordia. Based on theoretical considerations, early inflorescence or floral organ identity genes would likely be directly involved in sex-determination in those species in which organ initiation rather than organ maturation is regulated. In this study, we tested the hypothesis that sexual dimorphism occurs through the regulation of B class floral organ gene expression by experimentally knocking down gene expression by viral induced gene silencing.
Suppression of B class genes in spinach resulted in the expected homeotic transformation of stamens into carpels but also affected the number of perianth parts and the presence of fourth whorl. Phenotypically normal female flowers developed on SpPI-silenced male plants. Suppression of the spinach C class floral organ identity gene, SpAG, resulted in loss of reproductive organ identity, and indeterminate flowers, but did not result in additional sex-specific characteristics or structures. Analysis of the genomic sequences of both SpAP3 and SpPI did not reveal any allelic differences between males and females.
Sexual dimorphism in spinach is not the result of homeotic transformation of established organs, but rather is the result of differential initiation and development of the third and fourth whorl primordia. SpAG is inferred to have organ identity and meristem termination functions similar to other angiosperm C class genes. In contrast, while SpPI and SpAP3 resemble other angiosperms in their essential functions in establishing stamen identity, they also appear to have an additional function in regulating organ number and identity outside of the third whorl. We present a model for the evolution of dioecy in spinach based on the regulation of B class expression.
PMCID: PMC2923521  PMID: 20226063
25.  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

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