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1.  Floral and Inflorescence Morphology and Ontogeny in Beta vulgaris, with Special Emphasis on the Ovary Position 
Annals of Botany  2008;102(4):643-651.
Background and Aims
In spite of recent phylogenetic analyses for the Chenopodiaceae–Amaranthaceae complex, some morphological characters are not unambiguously interpreted, which raises homology questions. Therefore, ontogenetic investigations, emphasizing on ‘bracteoles’ in Atripliceae and flowers in Chenopodioideae, were conducted. This first paper presents original ontogenetic observations in Beta vulgaris, which was chosen as a reference species for further comparative investigation because of its unclarified phylogenetic position and its flowers with a (semi-)inferior ovary, whereas all other Chenopodiaceae–Amaranthaceae have hypogynous flowers.
Inflorescences and flowers were examined using scanning electron microscopy and light microscopy.
Key Results
Floral development starts from an inflorescence unit primordium subtended by a lateral bract. This primordium develops into a determinate axis on which two opposite lateral flowers originate, each subtended by a bracteole. On a flower primordium, first five tepal primordia appear, followed by five opposite stamen primordia. Simultaneously, a convex floral apex appears, which differentiates into an annular ovary primordium with three stigma primordia, surrounding a central, single ovule. A floral tube, which raises the outer floral whorls, envelops the ovary, resulting in a semi-inferior ovary at mature stage. Similarly, a stamen tube is formed, raising the insertion points of the stamens, and forming a staminal ring, which does not contain stomata. During floral development, the calyces of the terminal flower and of one of the lateral flowers often fuse, forming a compound fruit structure.
In Beta vulgaris, the inflorescence is compound, consisting of an indeterminate main axis with many elementary dichasia as inflorescence units, of which the terminal flower and one lateral flower fuse at a later stage. Floral parts develop starting from the outer whorl towards the gynoecium. Because of the formation of an epigynous hypanthium, the ovary becomes semi-inferior in the course of floral development.
PMCID: PMC2701786  PMID: 18694878
Beta vulgaris; Chenopodiaceae; floral ontogeny; gynoecial development; epigynous hypanthium; semi-inferior ovary; inflorescence ontogeny; LM; SEM
2.  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
3.  Comparative ontogeny of the cyathium in Euphorbia (Euphorbiaceae) and its allies: exploring the organ–flower–inflorescence boundary1 
American journal of botany  2007;94(10):1612-1629.
We present a detailed comparative ontogenetic analysis of pseudanthia of representatives of all three subtribes of Euphorbieae (Euphorbiinae, Neoguillauminiinae, Anthosteminae) in order to clarify their homologies and interpretation. The cyathium of Euphorbia and its allies (subtribe Euphorbiinae) closely resembles a bisexual flower but is traditionally interpreted as an inflorescence bearing clusters of highly reduced male flowers surrounding a single terminal female flower. Previously unreported characters are (1) male flowers formed one above the other in the male inflorescences of some Euphorbiinae, (2) late-developing perianthlike structures in some male flowers of Neoguillauminia cleopatra, (3) evidence for a bracteate origin of the female perianth in Anthosteminae and Neoguillauminiinae, and (4) spatiotemporally independent formation of abscission zone and perianth. Indistinct boundaries between inflorescence, flower, and floral organs demonstrate that defining the cyathium neither as an inflorescence nor as a flower is entirely satisfactory and indicate a “hybrid” flower/inflorescence nature of the cyathium. Based on our current knowledge and the existing phylogenetic context, it is most parsimonious to suggest that the cyathium evolved from a determinate thyrse with a terminal female flower surrounded by dichasial male partial inflorescences. We speculate that the cyathium was formed because of strong condensation and possible overlap between expression zones of regulatory genes.
PMCID: PMC2999901  PMID: 21151828
cyathium; Euphorbia; Euphorbiaceae; Euphorbieae; flower; Malpighiales; ontogeny; pseudanthium
4.  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
5.  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
6.  Is LEAFY a useful marker gene for the flower–inflorescence boundary in the Euphorbia cyathium? 
Journal of Experimental Botany  2010;62(1):345-350.
The flower-like reproductive structure of Euphorbia s.l. (Euphorbiaceae) is widely believed to have evolved from an inflorescence, and is therefore interpreted as a special type of pseudanthium, termed a cyathium. However, fuzzy morphological boundaries between the inflorescence, individual flowers, and organs have fuelled the suggestion that the cyathium does not merely superficially resemble a flower but could actually share developmental genetic pathways with a conventional flower. To test this hypothesis, immunolocalizations of FLORICAULA/LEAFY (LFY), a protein associated with floral identity in many angiosperm species, were performed in developing cyathia of different species of Euphorbia. Expression of the LFY protein was found not only in individual floral primordia (as predicted from results in the model organisms Arabidopsis and Anthirrhinum), but also in the cyathium primordium and in the primordia of partial male inflorescences. These results provide further evidence that the evolution of floral traits in pseudanthial inflorescences often involves expression of floral development genes in the inflorescence apex. This finding blurs the conventional rigid distinction between flowers and inflorescences.
PMCID: PMC2993917  PMID: 20965944
Cyathium; Euphorbia; Euphorbiaceae; FLORICAULA/LEAFY; flower; inflorescence; Malpighiales; pseudanthium
7.  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
8.  Influence of clavata3-2 mutation on early flower development in Arabidopsis thaliana: quantitative analysis of changing geometry 
Journal of Experimental Botany  2008;60(2):679-695.
Early development of the flower primordium has been studied in Arabidopsis thaliana clavata3-2 (clv3-2) plants with the aid of sequential in vivo replicas and longitudinal microtome sections. Sequential replicas show that, although there is no regular phyllotaxis in the clv3-2 inflorescence shoot apex, the sites of new primordium formation are, to a large extent, predictable. The primordium always appears in a wedge-like region of the meristem periphery flanked by two older primordia. In general, stages of primordium development in clv3-2 are similar to the wild type, but quantitative geometry analysis shows that the clv3-2 primordium shape is affected even before the CLAVATA/WUSCHEL regulatory network would start to operate in the wild-type primordium. The shape of the youngest primordium in the mutant is more variable than in the wild type. In particular, the shape of the adaxial primordium boundary varies and seems to be related to the shape of the space available for the given primordium formation, suggesting that physical constraints play a significant role in primordium shape determination. The role of physical constraints is also manifested in that the shape of the primordium in the later stages, as well as the number and position of sepals, are adjusted to the available space. Longitudinal sections of clv3-2 apices show that the shape of surface cells of the meristem and young primordium is different from the wild type. Moreover, there is only one tunica layer in both the meristem and in the primordium until it becomes a bulge that is distinctly separated from the meristem. Starting from this stage, the anticlinal divisions predominate in subprotodermal cells, suggesting that the distribution of periclinal and anticlinal cell divisions in the early development of the flower primordium is not directly affected by the clv3-2 mutation.
PMCID: PMC2651453  PMID: 19088334
Arabidopsis thaliana; clavata3-2; early flower development; shoot apex; primordium geometry
9.  Floral ontogeny and gene protein localization rules out euanthial interpretation of reproductive units in Lepironia (Cyperaceae, Mapanioideae, Chrysitricheae) 
Annals of Botany  2013;112(1):161-177.
Background and Aims
In the sedge subfamily Mapanioideae there are considerable discrepancies between the standard trimerous monocot floral architecture expected and the complex floral and inflorescence morphologies seen. Decades of debate about whether the basic reproductive units are single flowers or pseudanthia have not resolved the question. This paper evaluates current knowledge about Mapaniid reproductive structures and presents an ontogenetic study of the Mapaniid genus Lepironia with the first floral protein expression maps for the family, localizing the products of the APETALA1/FRUITFULL-like (AP1/FUL) MADS-box genes with the aim of shedding light on this conundrum.
A range of reproductive developmental stages, from spikelet primordia through to infructescence material, were processed for anatomical and immunohistochemical analyses.
Key Results
The basic reproductive unit is subtended by a bract and possesses two prophyll-like structures, the first organs to be initiated on the primordium, which grow rapidly, enclosing two whorls of initiating leaf-like structures with intervening stamens and a central gynoecium, formed from an annular primordium. The subtending bract and prophyll-like structures possess very different morphologies from that of the internal leaf-like structures and do not show AP1/FUL-like protein localization, which is otherwise strongly localized in the internal leaf-like structures, stamens and gynoecia.
Results support the synanthial hypothesis as the evolutionary origin of the reproductive unit. Thus, the basic reproductive unit in Lepironia is an extremely condensed pseudanthium, of staminate flowers surrounding a central terminal pistillate female flower. Early in development the reproductive unit becomes enclosed by a split-prophyll, with the whole structure subtended by a bract.
PMCID: PMC3690996  PMID: 23723258
Floral development; Lepironia articulata; Mapanioideae; Chrysitricheae; Cyperaceae; Hypolytreae; SEM; immunolocalization; AP1-FUL-like MADS-box genes
10.  Expression of paralogous SEP-, FUL-, AG- and STK-like MADS-box genes in wild-type and peloric Phalaenopsis flowers 
The diverse flowers of Orchidaceae are the result of several major morphological transitions, among them the most studied is the differentiation of the inner median tepal into the labellum, a perianth organ key in pollinator attraction. Type A peloria lacking stamens and with ectopic labella in place of inner lateral tepals are useful for testing models on the genes specifying these organs by comparing their patterns of expression between wild-type and peloric flowers. Previous studies focused on DEFICIENS- and GLOBOSA-like MADS-box genes because of their conserved role in perianth and stamen development. The “orchid code” model summarizes this work and shows in Orchidaceae there are four paralogous lineages of DEFICIENS/AP3-like genes differentially expressed in each floral whorl. Experimental tests of this model showed the conserved, higher expression of genes from two specific DEF-like gene lineages is associated with labellum development. The present study tests whether eight MADS-box candidate SEP-, FUL-, AG-, and STK-like genes have been specifically duplicated in the Orchidaceae and are also differentially expressed in association with the distinct flower organs of Phalaenopsis hyb. “Athens.” The gene trees indicate orchid-specific duplications. In a way analogous to what is observed in labellum-specific DEF-like genes, a two-fold increase in the expression of SEP3-like gene PhaMADS7 was measured in the labellum-like inner lateral tepals of peloric flowers. The overlap between SEP3-like and DEF-like genes suggests both are associated with labellum specification and similar positional cues determine their domains of expression. In contrast, the uniform messenger levels of FUL-like genes suggest they are involved in the development of all organs and their expression in the ovary suggests cell differentiation starts before pollination. As previously reported AG-like and STK-like genes are exclusively expressed in gynostemium and ovary, however no evidence for transcriptional divergence was found in the stage investigated. Gene expression suggests a developmental regulatory system based on the combined activity of duplicate MADS-box genes. We discuss its feasibility based on documented protein interactions and patterns of expression.
PMCID: PMC3950491  PMID: 24659990
Orchidaceae; flower evolution; evo-devo; qPCR; gene duplication; labellum
11.  An Activated Form of UFO Alters Leaf Development and Produces Ectopic Floral and Inflorescence Meristems 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e83807.
Plants are unique in their ability to continuously produce new meristems and organ primordia. In Arabidopsis, the transcription factor LEAFY (LFY) functions as a master regulator of a gene network that is important for floral meristem and organ specification. UNUSUAL FLORAL ORGANS (UFO) is a co-activator of LEAFY and is required for proper activation of APETALA3 in the floral meristem during the specification of stamens and petals. The ufo mutants display defects in other parts of the flower and the inflorescence, suggestive of additional roles. Here we show that the normal determinacy of the developing Arabidopsis leaves is affected by the expression of a gain-of-function UFO fusion protein with the VP16 transcriptional activator domain. In these lines, the rosette and cauline leaf primordia exhibit reiterated serration, and upon flowering produce ectopic meristems that develop into flowers, bract leaves and inflorescences. These striking phenotypes reveal that developing leaves maintain the competency to initiate flower and inflorescence programs. Furthermore, the gain-of-function phenotypes are dependent on LFY and the SEPALLATA (SEP) MADS-box transcription factors, indicative of their functional interactions with UFO. The findings of this study also suggest that UFO promotes the establishment of the lateral meristems and primordia in the peripheral zone of the apical and floral meristems by enhancing the activity of LFY. These novel phenotypes along with the mutant phenotypes of UFO orthologs in other plant species suggest a broader function for UFO in plants.
PMCID: PMC3871548  PMID: 24376756
12.  Ontogeny and structure of the acervulate partial inflorescence in Hyophorbe lagenicaulis (Arecaceae; Arecoideae) 
Annals of Botany  2011;108(8):1517-1527.
Background and Aims
The palm tribe Chamaedoreeae displays flowers arranged in a complex partial inflorescence called an acervulus. This type of partial inflorescence has so far not been reported elsewhere in the largest palm subfamily Arecoideae, which is traditionally characterized by flowers predominantly arranged in triads of one central female and two lateral male flowers. The ontogenetic basis of the acervulus is as yet unknown and its structural diversity throughout the genera of the Chamaedoreeae poorly recorded. This study aims to provide critical information on these aspects.
Developmental series and mature inflorescences were sampled from plants cultivated in international botanical gardens and wild populations. The main techniques employed included scanning electronic microscopy and serial anatomical sectioning of resin-embedded fragments of rachillae.
Key Results
Inflorescence ontogeny in Hyophorbe lagenicaulis demonstrates that the acervulus and the inflorescence rachilla form a condensed and cymose branching system resembling a coenosome. Syndesmy results from a combined process of rapid development and adnation, without or with reduced axis elongation. Acervulus diversity in the ten taxa of the Chamaedoreeae studied is displayed at the level of their positioning within the inflorescence, their arrangement, the number of floral buds and their sexual expression.
The results show that a more general definition of the type of partial inflorescence observed within the large subfamily Arecoideae would correspond to a cyme rather than to a floral triad. In spite of their common cymose architecture, the floral triad and the acervulus present differences with respect to the number and arrangement of floral buds, the superficial pattern of development and sexual expression.
PMCID: PMC3219493  PMID: 21712300
Arecoideae; Chamaedoreeae; Hyophorbe lagenicaulis; acervulus; development; partial inflorescence
13.  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
14.  Verhuellia is a segregate lineage in Piperaceae: more evidence from flower, fruit and pollen morphology, anatomy and development 
Annals of Botany  2010;105(5):677-688.
Background and Aims
The perianthless Piperales, i.e. Saururaceae and Piperaceae, have simple reduced flowers strikingly different from the other families of the order (e.g. Aristolochiaceae). Recent molecular phylogenies proved Verhuellia to be the first branch in Piperaceae, making it a promising subject to study the detailed structure and development of the flowers. Based on recently collected material, the first detailed study since 1872 was conducted with respect to morphology, anatomy and development of the inflorescence, pollen ultrastructure and fruit anatomy.
Original scanning electron microscopy (SEM), transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and light microscopy (LM) observations on Verhuellia lunaria were compared with those of Piperaceae, Saururaceae and fossils.
Key Results
The inflorescence is an indeterminate spike with sessile flowers, each in the axil of a bract, developing in acropetal, helical succession. Flowers consist of two (occasionally three) stamens with basifixed tetrasporangiate anthers and latrorse dehiscence by a longitudinal slit. The gynoecium lacks a style but has 3–4 stigma branches and a single, basal orthotropous and unitegmic ovule. The fruit is a drupe with large multicellular epidermal protuberances. The pollen is very small, inaperturate and areolate, with hemispherical microechinate exine elements.
Despite the superficial similarities with different genera of Piperaceae and Saururaceae, the segregate position of Verhuellia revealed by molecular phylogenetics is supported by morphological, developmental and anatomical data presented here. Unitegmic ovules and inaperturate pollen, which are synapomorphies for the genus Peperomia, are also present in Verhuellia.
PMCID: PMC2859909  PMID: 20237114
Verhuellia lunaria; Piperales; Peperomia; Appomattoxia ancistrophora; floral development; floral anatomy; fruit morphology; pollen morphology; unitegmic ovule; inaperturate pollen
15.  Novel functional roles for PERIANTHIA and SEUSS during floral organ identity specification, floral meristem termination, and gynoecial development 
The gynoecium is the female reproductive structure of angiosperm flowers. In Arabidopsis thaliana the gynoecium is composed of two carpels that are fused into a tube-like structure. As the gynoecial primordium arises from the floral meristem, a specialized meristematic structure, the carpel margin meristem (CMM), develops from portions of the medial gynoecial domain. The CMM is critical for reproductive competence because it gives rise to the ovules, the precursors of the seeds. Here we report a functional role for the transcription factor PERIANTHIA (PAN) in the development of the gynoecial medial domain and the formation of ovule primordia. This function of PAN is revealed in pan aintegumenta (ant) as well as seuss (seu) pan double mutants that form reduced numbers of ovules. Previously, PAN was identified as a regulator of perianth organ number and as a direct activator of AGAMOUS (AG) expression in floral whorl four. However, the seu pan double mutants display enhanced ectopic AG expression in developing sepals and the partial transformation of sepals to petals indicating a novel role for PAN in the repression of AG in floral whorl one. These results indicate that PAN functions as an activator or repressor of AG expression in a whorl-specific fashion. The seu pan double mutants also display enhanced floral indeterminacy, resulting in the formation of “fifth whorl” structures and disruption of WUSCHEL (WUS) expression patterns revealing a novel role for SEU in floral meristem termination.
PMCID: PMC3985007  PMID: 24778638
ovule; gynoecium; flowers; agamous; wuschel; organ identity; indeterminate growth
16.  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
17.  Environmental control of sepalness and petalness in perianth organs of waterlilies: a new Mosaic Theory for the evolutionary origin of a differentiated perianth 
Journal of Experimental Botany  2009;60(12):3559-3574.
The conventional concept of an ‘undifferentiated perianth’, implying that all perianth organs of a flower are alike, obscures the fact that individual perianth organs are sometimes differentiated into sepaloid and petaloid regions, as in the early-divergent angiosperms Nuphar, Nymphaea, and Schisandra. In the waterlilies Nuphar and Nymphaea, sepaloid regions closely coincide with regions of the perianth that were exposed when the flower was in bud, whereas petaloid regions occur in covered regions, suggesting that their development is at least partly controlled by the environment of the developing tepal. Green and colourful areas differ from each other in trichome density and presence of papillae, features that often distinguish sepals and petals. Field experiments to test whether artificial exposure can induce sepalness in the inner tepals showed that development of sepaloid patches is initiated by exposure, at least in the waterlily species examined. Although light is an important environmental cue, other important factors include an absence of surface contact. Our interpretation contradicts the unspoken rule that ‘sepal’ and ‘petal’ must refer to whole organs. We propose a novel theory (the Mosaic theory), in which the distinction between sepalness and petalness evolved early in angiosperm history, but these features were not fixed to particular organs and were primarily environmentally controlled. At a later stage in angiosperm evolution, sepaloid and petaloid characteristics became fixed to whole organs in specific whorls, thus reducing or removing the need for environmental control in favour of fixed developmental control.
PMCID: PMC2724705  PMID: 19574253
Environment; Nymphaea; Nuphar; organ identity; perianth evolution; petals; Schisandra; sepals; tepals
18.  Cell cycle arrest characterizes the transition from a bisexual floral bud to a unisexual flower in Phoenix dactylifera 
Annals of Botany  2010;106(2):255-266.
Background and Aims
Phoenix dactylifera (date palm) is a dioecious species displaying strong dimorphism between pistillate and staminate flowers. The mechanisms involved in the development of unisexual flowers are as yet unknown.
This paper describes the results of inflorescence and flower development studies using different histological and molecular cytological approaches. Nuclear integrity and cell division patterns in reproductive organs were investigated through DAPI staining and in situ hybridization using a histone H4 gene probe.
Key Results
The earliest sex-related difference in flower buds is observed at an otherwise ‘bisexual’ stage, at which the number of cells in the gynoecium of pistillate flowers is higher than in their staminate counterparts. In the pistillate flower, staminodes (sterile stamens) display precocious arrest of development followed by cell differentiation. In the staminate flower, pistillodes (sterile gynoecium) undergo some degree of differentiation and their development ceases shortly after the ovule has been initiated. Staminode and pistillode cells exhibit nuclear integrity although they did not show any accumulation of histone H4 gene transcripts.
These results strongly suggest that the developmental arrest of sterile sex organs and the subsequent unisexuality of date palm flowers result from a cessation of cell division and precocious cell differentiation rather than from cell death.
PMCID: PMC2908162  PMID: 20534596
Date palm; reproductive development; cell division patterns; sex determination
19.  Floral development of Hydrocera and Impatiens reveals evolutionary trends in the most early diverged lineages of the Balsaminaceae 
Annals of Botany  2012;109(7):1285-1296.
Background and Aims
Balsaminaceae consist of two genera, the monospecific Hydrocera and its species-rich sister Impatiens. Although both genera are seemingly rather similar in overall appearance, they differ in ecology, distribution range, habitat preference and morphology. Because morphological support for the current molecular phylogenetic hypothesis of Impatiens is low, a developmental study is necessary in order to obtain better insights into the evolutionary history of the family. Therefore, the floral development of H. triflora and I. omeiana was investigated, representing the most early-diverged lineage of Impatiens, and the observations were compared with the literature.
Flowers at all developmental stages were examined using scanning electron microscopy and light microscopy.
Key results
In Hydrocera, two whorls of five free perianth primordia develop into a less zygomorphic perianth compared with its sister genus. The androecial cap originates from five individual stamen primordia. Post-genital fusion of the upper parts of the filaments result in a filament ring below the anthers. The anthers fuse forming connivent anther-like units. The gynoecium of Hydrocera is pentamerous; it is largely synascidiate in early development. Only then is a symplicate zone formed resulting in style and stigmas. In I. omeiana, the perianth is formed as in Hydrocera. Five individual stamen primordia develop into five stamens, of which the upper part of the filaments converge with each other. The gynoecium of I. omeiana is tetramerous; it appears annular in early development.
Comparison of the present results with developmental data from the literature confirms the perianth morphocline hypothesis in which a congenital fusion of the parts of the perianth results in a shift from pentasepalous to trisepalous flowers. In addition, the development of the androecial cap and the gynoecium follows several distinct ontogenetic sequences within the family.
PMCID: PMC3359920  PMID: 22499855
Balsaminaceae; androecium; floral development; gynoecium; Hydrocera triflora; Impatiens omeiana
20.  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
21.  Pseudanthium development in Calycopeplus paucifolius, with particular reference to the evolution of the cyathium in Euphorbieae (Euphorbiaceae–Malpighiales) 
Australian systematic botany  2008;21(3):153-161.
The morphology and development of flowers and pseudanthia of Calycopeplus paucifolius are described in detail in the context of recent molecular phylogenies of the tribe Euphorbieae and a recent comparative developmental analysis of other taxa within this tribe. Calycopeplus resembles subtribes Neoguillauminiinae and Anthosteminae in some respects (dichasial formation of male flowers within male partial inflorescences, late formation of a constriction in male and female flowers and early formation of a female perianth), but resembles Dichostemma (subtribe Anthosteminae) in possessing only four male partial inflorescences. Calycopeplus and all other Euphorbieae possess only three carpels, except Dichostemma, which has four carpels per female flower. The studied species differs from the closely related Neoguillauminia cleopatra (subtribe Neoguillauminiinae) in that only four nectaries are formed, situated on the rim of the cuplike involucre (in Neoguillauminia 8–10 nectaries arise directly from the base of the pseudanthium). In contrast to all other studied Euphorbieae with trimerous gynoecia, the unpaired carpel of C. paucifolius is oriented in an upper/adaxial position (it lies in the lower/abaxial position in all other studied taxa). On the basis of these results we discuss possible pathways of cyathium evolution and the role of the cyathium as a possible key innovation within Euphorbieae.
‘Calycopeplus is as perfect an example of a connecting link as a morphologist may wish for.’ (Croizat 1937, p. 404)
PMCID: PMC3059492  PMID: 21423860
22.  Arabidopsis floral phytomer development: auxin response relative to biphasic modes of organ initiation 
Journal of Experimental Botany  2014;65(12):3097-3110.
A discrepancy exists between auxin response maxima and floral organ initiation, which occurs unidirectionally for sepals and transitions to a centripetal mode for inner whorl organs.
In the Arabidopsis inflorescence meristem (IM), auxin is considered a prepatterning signal for floral primordia, whereas a centripetal mode of positional information for floral organ identity is inherent to the ABCE model. However, spatio-temporal patterns of organ initiation in each whorl at the earliest initiation stages are largely unknown. Evidence suggests that initial flower development occurs along an abaxial/adaxial axis and conforms to phytomer theory. Use of the founder cell marker DORNRÖSCHEN-LIKE (DRNL) as a tool in leafy, puchi, and apetala 1 cauliflower mutant backgrounds suggests that bract founder cells are marked at the IM periphery. The DRNL transcription domain in the wild-type IM is spatially discrete from DR5 expression, suggesting that bract initiation is independent of canonical auxin response. When bracts develop in lfy and puchi mutant floral primordia the initiation of lateral sepals precedes the specification of medial sepals compared with wild type, showing an interplay between bract and abaxial sepal founder cell recruitment. In the perianthia (pan) mutant background, DRNL expression indicates that a radial outer whorl arrangement derives from splitting of sepal founder cell populations at abaxial and adaxial positions. This splitting of incipient sepal primordia is partially dependent on PRESSED FLOWER (PRS) activity and implies that sepal specification is independent of WUSCHEL and CLAVATA3 expression, as both marker genes only regain activity in stage-2 flowers, when patterning of inner floral organs switches to a centripetal mode. The transition from an initially abaxial/adaxial into a centripetal patterning programme, and its timing represent an adaptive trait that possibly contributes to variation in floral morphology, especially unidirectional organ initiation.
PMCID: PMC4071828  PMID: 24744428
Centripetal flower development; DORNRÖSCHEN-LIKE; stem-cell niche; founder cells; floral meristem; bract.
23.  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
24.  A nucleostemin-like GTPase required for normal apical and floral meristem development in Arabidopsis 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2012;23(8):1446-1456.
Stem cell activities have to be terminated during flower development. A nucleostemin-like 1 gene, NSN1, is described in Arabidopsis. NSN1 is a midsize nucleolar GTPase required for proper termination of stem cell activities during flower development.
Mammalian nucleostemin (NS) is preferentially expressed in stem cells and acts to promote cell cycle progression. In plants, stem cell activities have to be terminated during flower development, and this process requires the activation of AGAMOUS (AG) gene expression. Here, a nucleostemin-like 1 gene, NSN1, is shown to be required for flower development in Arabidopsis. The NSN1 mRNA was found in the inflorescence meristem and floral primordia, and its protein was localized to the nucleoli. Both heterozygous and homozygous plants developed defective flowers on inflorescences that were eventually terminated by the formation of carpelloid flowers. Overexpression of NSN1 resulted in loss of apical dominance and formation of defective flowers. Expression of the AG gene was found to be up-regulated in nsn1. The carpelloid flower defect of nsn1 was suppressed by the ag mutation in the nsn1 ag double mutant, whereas double mutants of nsn1 apetala2 (ap2) displayed enhanced defective floral phenotypes. These results suggest that in the delicately balanced regulatory network, NSN1 acts to repress AG and plays an additive role with AP2 in floral organ specification. As a midsize nucleolar GTPase, NSN1 represents a new class of regulatory proteins required for flower development in Arabidopsis.
PMCID: PMC3327326  PMID: 22357616
25.  Visual discrimination between two sexually deceptive Ophrys species by a bee pollinator 
Arthropod-plant interactions  2010;4(3):141-148.
Almost all species of the orchid genus Ophrys are pollinated by sexual deception. The orchids mimic the sex pheromone of receptive female insects, mainly hymenopterans, in order to attract males seeking to copulate. Most Ophrys species have achromatic flowers, but some exhibit a coloured perianth and a bright, conspicuous labellum pattern. We recently showed that the pink perianth of Ophrys heldreichii flowers increases detectability by its pollinator, males of the long-horned bee Eucera berlandi. Here we tested the hypothesis that the bright, complex labellum pattern mimics the female of the pollinator to increase attractiveness toward males. In a dual-choice test we offered E. berlandi males an O. heldreichii flower and a flower from O. dictynnae, which also exhibits a pinkish perianth but no conspicuous labellum pattern. Both flowers were housed in UV-transmitting acrylic glass boxes to exclude olfactory signals. Males significantly preferred O. heldreichii to O. dictynnae flowers. In a second experiment, we replaced the perianth of both flowers with identical artificial perianths made from pink card, so that only the labellum differed between the two flower stimuli. Males then chose between both stimuli at random, suggesting that the presence of a labellum pattern does not affect their choice. Spectral measurements revealed higher colour contrast with the background of the perianth of O. heldreichii compared to O. dictynnae, but no difference in green receptor-specific contrast or brightness. Our results show that male choice is guided by the chromatic contrast of the perianth during the initial flower approach but is not affected by the presence of a labellum pattern. Instead, we hypothesise that the labellum pattern is involved in aversive learning during post-copulatory behaviour and used by the orchid as a strategy to increase outcrossing.
PMCID: PMC3080657  PMID: 21516265
Ophrys heldreichii; Colour vision; Sexual deception; Signal evolution; Object detection; Pollination

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