The pre-Columbian presence of coconut on the Pacific coast of Panama is attested by a number of independent written accounts. However, recent papers question their accuracy and conclude that coconut was introduced to the region by the Spaniards after their conquests.
In order to examine the value of such claims, an extensive search was conducted of the relevant historical accounts of coconut in America and in the Orient.
The Spanish chronicler Oviedo (1478–1557) is found to have effectively used fruit and seed size to distinguish coconut from other palms. In addition, it is shown that he has been inaccurately faulted with incorrectly representing a cluster of coconuts. The original drawing, a cluster of a native Bactris, was in the marginalia and was only assigned to coconut after Oviedo's death. Finally, the location is identified of a coastal Panamanian site described by Pedro Mártir de Anglería and where tidal dispersal of coconuts was observed.
This previously overlooked evidence confirms the pre-historical presence of coconut in Panama. Genetic data indicate that it must have been brought there directly or indirectly from the Philippines. But when, where and by whom remains a subject of research. Further molecular marker studies, computer simulation of natural drift and archaeological research could contribute to this research.
Coconut; Cocos nucifera; New World flora; Panama; oceanic current dissemination; Spanish explorations; Central America; early trans-Pacific voyaging
Background and Aims
Patterns of morphological evolution at levels above family rank remain underexplored in the ferns. The present study seeks to address this gap through analysis of 79 morphological characters for 81 taxa, including representatives of all ten families of eupolypod II ferns. Recent molecular phylogenetic studies demonstrate that the evolution of the large eupolypod II clade (which includes nearly one-third of extant fern species) features unexpected patterns. The traditional ‘athyrioid’ ferns are scattered across the phylogeny despite their apparent morphological cohesiveness, and mixed among these seemingly conservative taxa are morphologically dissimilar groups that lack any obvious features uniting them with their relatives. Maximum-likelihood and maximum-parsimony character optimizations are used to determine characters that unite the seemingly disparate groups, and to test whether the polyphyly of the traditional athyrioid ferns is due to evolutionary stasis (symplesiomorphy) or convergent evolution. The major events in eupolypod II character evolution are reviewed, and character and character state concepts are reappraised, as a basis for further inquiries into fern morphology.
Characters were scored from the literature, live plants and herbarium specimens, and optimized using maximum-parsimony and maximum-likelihood, onto a highly supported topology derived from maximum-likelihood and Bayesian analysis of molecular data. Phylogenetic signal of characters were tested for using randomization methods and fitdiscrete.
The majority of character state changes within the eupolypod II phylogeny occur at the family level or above. Relative branch lengths for the morphological data resemble those from molecular data and fit an ancient rapid radiation model (long branches subtended by very short backbone internodes), with few characters uniting the morphologically disparate clades. The traditional athyrioid ferns were circumscribed based upon a combination of symplesiomorphic and homoplastic characters. Petiole vasculature consisting of two bundles is ancestral for eupolypods II and a synapomorphy for eupolypods II under deltran optimization. Sori restricted to one side of the vein defines the recently recognized clade comprising Rhachidosoraceae through Aspleniaceae, and sori present on both sides of the vein is a synapomorphy for the Athyriaceae sensu stricto. The results indicate that a chromosome base number of x =41 is synapomorphic for all eupolypods, a clade that includes over two-thirds of extant fern species.
The integrated approach synthesizes morphological studies with current phylogenetic hypotheses and provides explicit statements of character evolution in the eupolypod II fern families. Strong character support is found for previously recognized clades, whereas few characters support previously unrecognized clades. Sorus position appears to be less complicated than previously hypothesized, and linear sori restricted to one side of the vein support the clade comprising Aspleniaceae, Diplaziopsidaceae, Hemidictyaceae and Rachidosoraceae – a lineage only recently identified. Despite x =41 being a frequent number among extant species, to our knowledge it has not previously been demonstrated as the ancestral state. This is the first synapomorphy proposed for the eupolypod clade, a lineage comprising 67 % of extant fern species. This study provides some of the first hypotheses of character evolution at the family level and above in light of recent phylogenetic results, and promotes further study in an area that remains open for original observation.
Athyriaceae; character state reconstruction; convergent evolution; Diplaziopsidaceae; eupolypods II; morphological evolution; Polypodiales; rate of evolution; Rhachidosoraceae; symplesiomorphy; Woodsiaceae
Iron (Fe) deficiency in crops is a worldwide agricultural problem. Plants have evolved several strategies to enhance Fe acquisition, but increasing evidence has shown that the intrinsic plant-based strategies alone are insufficient to avoid Fe deficiency in Fe-limited soils. Soil micro-organisms also play a critical role in plant Fe acquisition; however, the mechanisms behind their promotion of Fe acquisition remain largely unknown.
This review focuses on the possible mechanisms underlying the promotion of plant Fe acquisition by soil micro-organisms.
Fe-deficiency-induced root exudates alter the microbial community in the rhizosphere by modifying the physicochemical properties of soil, and/or by their antimicrobial and/or growth-promoting effects. The altered microbial community may in turn benefit plant Fe acquisition via production of siderophores and protons, both of which improve Fe bioavailability in soil, and via hormone generation that triggers the enhancement of Fe uptake capacity in plants. In addition, symbiotic interactions between micro-organisms and host plants could also enhance plant Fe acquisition, possibly including: rhizobium nodulation enhancing plant Fe uptake capacity and mycorrhizal fungal infection enhancing root length and the nutrient acquisition area of the root system, as well as increasing the production of Fe3+ chelators and protons.
Hormones; iron deficiency; microbial community structure; siderophore; symbiosis
Background and Aims
The Campanulaceae is a large cosmopolitan family, but is understudied in terms of germination, and seed biology in general. Small seed mass (usually in the range 10–200 µg) is a noteworthy trait of the family, and having small seeds is commonly associated with a light requirement. Thus, the purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of light on germination in 131 taxa of the Campanulaceae family, from all five continents of its distribution.
For all taxa, seed germination was tested in light (8 or 12 h photoperiod) and continuous darkness under constant and alternating temperatures. For four taxa, the effect of light on germination was examined over a wide range of temperatures on a thermogradient plate, and the possible substitution of the light requirement by gibberellic acid and nitrate was examined in ten taxa.
For all 131 taxa, seed germination was higher in light than in darkness for every temperature tested. Across species, the light requirement decreased significantly with increasing seed mass. For larger seeded species, germination in the dark reached higher levels under alternating than under constant temperatures. Gibberellic acid promoted germination in darkness whereas nitrates partially substituted for a light requirement only in species showing some dark germination.
A light requirement for germination, observed in virtually all taxa examined, constitutes a collective characteristic of the family. It is postulated that smaller seeded taxa might germinate only on the soil surface or at shallow depths, while larger seeded species might additionally germinate when buried in the soil if cued to do so by fluctuating temperatures.
Campanulaceae; germination; light requirement; seed mass; constant vs. alternating temperatures; gibberellic acid; nitrate
Background and Aims
The growth of crops in a mixture is more variable and difficult to predict than that in pure stands. Light partitioning and crop leaf area expansion play prominent roles in explaining this variability. However, in many crops commonly grown in mixtures, including the forage species alfalfa, the sensitivity and relative importance of the physiological responses involved in the light modulation of leaf area expansion are still to be established. This study was designed to assess the relative sensitivity of primary shoot development, branching and individual leaf expansion in alfalfa in response to light availability.
Two experiments were carried out. The first studied isolated plants to assess the potential development of different shoot types and growth periods. The second consisted of manipulating the intensity of competition for light using a range of canopies in pure and mixed stands at two densities so as to evaluate the relative effects on shoot development, leaf growth, and plant and shoot demography.
Shoot development in the absence of light competition was deterministic (constant phyllochrons of 32·5 °Cd and 48·2 °Cd for primary axes and branches, branching probability of 1, constant delay of 1·75 phyllochron before axillary bud burst) and identical irrespective of shoot type and growth/regrowth periods. During light competition experiments, changes in plant development explained most of the plant leaf area variations, with average leaf size contributing to a lesser extent. Branch development and the number of shoots per plant were the leaf area components most affected by light availability. Primary axis development and plant demography were only affected in situations of severe light competition.
Plant leaf area components differed with regard to their sensitivity to light competition. The potential shoot development model presented in this study could serve as a framework to integrate light responses in alfalfa crop models.
Medicago sativa; leaf area; light competition; branching; shoot; development; leaf growth; morphogenesis; model
Background and Aims
Despite the great importance of autopolyploidy in the evolution of angiosperms, relatively little attention has been devoted to autopolyploids in natural polyploid systems. Several hypotheses have been proposed to explain why autopolyploids are so common and successful, for example increased genetic diversity and heterozygosity and the transition towards selfing. However, case studies on patterns of genetic diversity and on mating systems in autopolyploids are scarce. In this study allozymes were employed to investigate the origin, population genetic diversity and mating system in the contact zone between diploid and assumed autotetraploid cytotypes of Vicia cracca in Central Europe.
Four enzyme systems resolved in six putative loci were investigated in ten diploid, ten tetraploid and five mixed-ploidy populations. Genetic diversity and heterozygosity, partitioning of genetic diversity among populations and cytotypes, spatial genetic structure and fixed heterozygosity were analysed. These studies were supplemented by a pollination experiment and meiotic chromosome observation.
Key Results and Conclusions
Weak evidence of fixed heterozygosity, a low proportion of unique alleles and genetic variation between cytotypes similar to the variation among populations within cytotypes supported the autopolyploid origin of tetraploids, although no multivalent formation was observed. Tetraploids possessed more alleles than diploids and showed higher observed zygotic heterozygosity than diploids, but the observed gametic heterozygosity was similar to the value observed in diploids and smaller than expected under panmixis. Values of the inbreeding coefficient and differentiation among populations (ρST) suggested that the breeding system in both cytotypes of V. cracca is mixed mating with prevailing outcrossing. The reduction in seed production of tetraploids after selfing was less than that in diploids. An absence of correlation between genetic and geographic distances and high differentiation among neighbouring tetraploid populations supports the secondary contact hypothesis with tetraploids of several independent origins in Central Europe. Nevertheless, the possibility of a recent in situ origin of tetraploids through a triploid bridge in some regions is also discussed.
Autopolyploidy; allozymes; genetic diversity; heterozygosity; fixed heterozygosity; genetic differentiation; F-statistics; inbreeding depression; mating system; artificial pollination; meiotic chromosomes; Vicia cracca
Background and Aims
Few phylogeographic studies have been undertaken of species confined to narrow, linear coastal systems where past sea level and geomorphological changes may have had a profound effect on species population sizes and distributions. In this study, a phylogeographic analysis was conducted of Eucalyptus gomphocephala (tuart), a tree species restricted to a 400 × 10 km band of coastal sand-plain in south west Australia. Here, there is little known about the response of coastal vegetation to glacial/interglacial climate change, and a test was made as to whether this species was likely to have persisted widely through the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM), or conforms to a post-LGM dispersal model of recovery from few refugia.
The genetic structure over the entire range of tuart was assessed using seven nuclear (21 populations; n = 595) and four chloroplast (24 populations; n = 238) microsatellite markers designed for eucalypt species. Correlative palaeodistribution modelling was also conducted based on five climatic variables, within two LGM models.
The chloroplast markers generated six haplotypes, which were strongly geographically structured (GST = 0·86 and RST = 0·75). Nuclear microsatellite diversity was high (overall mean HE 0·75) and uniformly distributed (FST = 0·05), with a strong pattern of isolation by distance (r2 = 0·362, P = 0·001). Distribution models of E. gomphocephala during the LGM showed a wide distribution that extended at least 30 km westward from the current distribution to the palaeo-coastline.
The chloroplast and nuclear data suggest wide persistence of E. gomphocephala during the LGM. Palaeodistribution modelling supports the conclusions drawn from genetic data and indicates a widespread westward shift of E. gomphocephala onto the exposed continental shelf during the LGM. This study highlights the importance of the inclusion of complementary, non-genetic data (information on geomorphology and palaeoclimate) to interpret phylogeographic patterns.
Australian biogeography; climate change; coastal geomorphology; Eucalyptus gomphocephala; founder effects; Last Glacial Maximum; LGM; microsatellites; Myrtaceae; palaeodistribution modelling; phylogeography; southern hemisphere; south-western Australia; tuart
Backround and Aims
It has been suggested that the rate of net photosynthesis (AN) of carnivorous plants increases in response to prey capture and nutrient uptake; however, data confirming the benefit from carnivory in terms of increased AN are scarce and unclear. The principal aim of our study was to investigate the photosynthetic benefit from prey capture in the carnivorous sundew Drosera capensis.
Prey attraction experiments were performed, with measurements and visualization of enzyme activities, elemental analysis and pigment quantification together with simultaneous measurements of gas exchange and chlorophyll a fluorescence in D. capensis in response to feeding with fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster).
Red coloration of tentacles did not act as a signal to attract fruit flies onto the traps. Phosphatase, phophodiesterase and protease activities were induced 24 h after prey capture. These activities are consistent with the depletion of phosphorus and nitrogen from digested prey and a significant increase in their content in leaf tissue after 10 weeks. Mechanical stimulation of tentacle glands alone was not sufficient to induce proteolytic activity. Activities of β-D-glucosidases and N-acetyl-β-D-glucosaminidases in the tentacle mucilage were not detected. The uptake of phosphorus from prey was more efficient than that of nitrogen and caused the foliar N:P ratio to decrease; the contents of other elements (K, Ca, Mg) decreased slightly in fed plants. Increased foliar N and P contents resulted in a significant increase in the aboveground plant biomass, the number of leaves and chlorophyll content as well as AN, maximum quantum yield (Fv/Fm) and effective photochemical quantum yield of photosystem II (ΦPSII).
According to the stoichiometric relationships among different nutrients, the growth of unfed D. capensis plants was P-limited. This P-limitation was markedly alleviated by feeding on fruit flies and resulted in improved plant nutrient status and photosynthetic performance. This study supports the original cost/benefit model proposed by T. Givnish almost 30 years ago and underlines the importance of plant carnivory for increasing phosphorus, and thereby photosynthesis.
Carnivorous plant; cost/benefit; Drosera capensis; cape sundew; fruit flies; digestive enzymes; nitrogen; phosphorus; photosynthesis; sundew
Background and Aims
Natural selection and genetic drift are important evolutionary forces in determining genetic and phenotypic differentiation in plant populations. The extent to which these two distinct evolutionary forces affect locally adaptive quantitative traits has been well studied in common plant and animal species. However, we know less about how quantitative traits respond to selection pressures and drift in endangered species that have small population sizes and fragmented distributions. To address this question, this study assessed the relative strengths of selection and genetic drift in shaping population differentiation of phenotypic traits in Psilopeganum sinense, a naturally rare and recently endangered plant species.
Population differentiation at five quantitative traits (QST) obtained from a common garden experiment was compared with differentiation at putatively neutral microsatellite markers (FST) in seven populations of P. sinense. QST estimates were derived using a Bayesian hierarchical variance component method.
Trait-specific QST values were equal to or lower than FST. Neutral genetic diversity was not correlated with quantitative genetic variation within the populations of P. sinense.
Despite the prevalent empirical evidence for QST > FST, the results instead suggest a definitive role of stabilizing selection and drift leading to phenotypic differentiation among small populations. Three traits exhibited a significantly lower QST relative to FST, suggesting that populations of P. sinense might have experienced stabilizing selection for the same optimal phenotypes despite large geographical distances between populations and habitat fragmentation. For the other two traits, QST estimates were of the same magnitude as FST, indicating that divergence in these traits could have been achieved by genetic drift alone. The lack of correlation between molecular marker and quantitative genetic variation suggests that sophisticated considerations are required for the inference of conservation measures of P. sinense from neutral genetic markers.
Psilopeganum sinense; Chinese privet; stabilizing selection; genetic drift; quantitative traits; QST; neutral microsatellite markers; FST; local adaptation, habitat fragmentation
Background and Aims
Formation of seed banks and dormancy cycling are well known in annual species, but not in woody species. In this study it was hypothesized that the long-lived halophytic cold desert shrub Kalidium gracile has a seed bank and dormancy cycling, which help restrict germination to a favourable time for seedling survival.
Fresh seeds were buried in November 2009 and exhumed and tested for germination monthly from May 2010 to December 2011 over a range of temperatures and salinities. Germination recovery and viability were determined after exposure to salinity and water stress. Seedling emergence and dynamics of the soil seed bank were investigated in the field.
Seeds of K. gracile had a soil seed bank of 7030 seeds m−2 at the beginning of the growing season. About 72 % of the seeds were depleted from the soil seed bank during a growing season, and only 1·4 % of them gave rise to seedlings that germinated early enough to reach a stage of growth at which they could survive to overwinter. About 28 % of the seeds became part of a persistent soil seed bank. Buried seeds exhibited an annual non-dormancy/conditional dormancy (ND/CD) cycle, and germination varied in sensitivity to salinity during the cycle. Dormancy cycling is coordinated with seasonal environmental conditions in such a way that the seeds germinate in summer, when there is sufficient precipitation for seedling establishment.
Kalidium gracile has three life history traits that help ensure persistence at a site: a polycarpic perennial life cycle, a persistent seed bank and dormancy cycling. The annual ND/CD cycle in seeds of K. gracile contributes to seedling establishment of this species in the unpredictable desert environment and to maintenance of a persistent soil seed bank. This is the first report of a seed dormancy cycle in a cold desert shrub.
Cold desert habitat; dormancy cycling; halophyte; Kalidium gracile; salt tolerance; seed germination; seedling recruitment; soil seed bank
Background and Aims
Understanding the species composition of pollen on pollinators has applications in agriculture, conservation and evolutionary biology. Current identification methods, including morphological analysis, cannot always discriminate taxa at the species level. Recent advances in flow cytometry techniques for pollen grains allow rapid testing of large numbers of pollen grains for DNA content, potentially providing improved species resolution.
A test was made as to whether pollen loads from single bees (honey-bees and bumble-bees) could be classified into types based on DNA content, and whether good estimates of proportions of different types could be made. An examination was also made of how readily DNA content can be used to identify specific pollen species.
The method allowed DNA contents to be quickly found for between 250 and 9391 pollen grains (750–28 173 nuclei) from individual honey-bees and between 81 and 11 512 pollen grains (243–34 537 nuclei) for bumble-bees. It was possible to identify a minimum number of pollen species on each bee and to assign proportions of each pollen type (based on DNA content) present.
The information provided by this technique is promising but is affected by the complexity of the pollination environment (i.e. number of flowering species present and extent of overlap in DNA content). Nevertheless, it provides a new tool for examining pollinator behaviour and between-species or cytotype pollen transfer, particularly when used in combination with other morphological, chemical or genetic techniques.
Flow cytometry; pollen; Apis mellifera; Bombus; pollen load composition; DNA content; bumble-bee; honey-bee; foraging behaviour; pollination
Arbuscular mycorrhizae (AMs) form a widespread root–fungus symbiosis that improves plant phosphate (Pi) acquisition and modifies the physiology and development of host plants. Increased branching is recognized as a general feature of AM roots, and has been interpreted as a means of increasing suitable sites for colonization. Fungal exudates, which are involved in the dialogue between AM fungi and their host during the pre-colonization phase, play a well-documented role in lateral root (LR) formation. In addition, the increased Pi content of AM plants, in relation to Pi-starved controls, as well as changes in the delivery of carbohydrates to the roots and modulation of phytohormone concentration, transport and sensitivity, are probably involved in increasing root system branching.
This review discusses the possible causes of increased branching in AM plants. The differential root responses to Pi, sugars and hormones of potential AM host species are also highlighted and discussed in comparison with those of the non-host Arabidopsis thaliana.
Fungal exudates are probably the main compounds regulating AM root morphogenesis during the first colonization steps, while a complex network of interactions governs root development in established AMs. Colonization and high Pi act synergistically to increase root branching, and sugar transport towards the arbusculated cells may contribute to LR formation. In addition, AM colonization and high Pi generally increase auxin and cytokinin and decrease ethylene and strigolactone levels. With the exception of cytokinins, which seem to regulate mainly the root:shoot biomass ratio, these hormones play a leading role in governing root morphogenesis, with strigolactones and ethylene blocking LR formation in the non-colonized, Pi-starved plants, and auxin inducing them in colonized plants, or in plants grown under high Pi conditions.
Arbuscular mycorrhizae; root branching; lateral roots; fungal exudates; phosphate; sugars; auxin; cytokinins; ethylene; strigolactones; Arabidopsis thaliana
Background and Aims
Formation of root cortical aerenchyma (RCA) can be induced by nutrient deficiency. In species adapted to aerobic soil conditions, this response is adaptive by reducing root maintenance requirements, thereby permitting greater soil exploration. One trade-off of RCA formation may be reduced radial transport of nutrients due to reduction in living cortical tissue. To test this hypothesis, radial nutrient transport in intact roots of maize (Zea mays) was investigated in two radiolabelling experiments employing genotypes with contrasting RCA.
In the first experiment, time-course dynamics of phosphate loading into the xylem were measured from excised nodal roots that varied in RCA formation. In the second experiment, uptake of phosphate, calcium and sulphate was measured in seminal roots of intact young plants in which variation in RCA was induced by treatments altering ethylene action or genetic differences.
In each of three paired genotype comparisons, the rate of phosphate exudation of high-RCA genotypes was significantly less than that of low-RCA genotypes. In the second experiment, radial nutrient transport of phosphate and calcium was negatively correlated with the extent of RCA for some genotypes.
The results support the hypothesis that RCA can reduce radial transport of some nutrients in some genotypes, which could be an important trade-off of this trait.
Aerenchyma; radial transport; root; nutrient uptake; phosphorus; sulfur; calcium; maize; Zea mays
Background and Aims
Peroxisomes are subcellular compartments involved in multiple cellular metabolic pathways. Peroxynitrite (ONOO−) is a nitric oxide-derived molecule which is a nitrating species that causes nitration of proteins. This study used cell biology techniques to explore the potential presence of peroxynitrite in peroxisomes and evaluated its content under stress conditions (excess cadmium).
Peroxynitrite, nitric oxide and superoxide anion were studied using cell-permeable specific fluorescent probes by confocal laser scanning microscopy in Arabidopsis thaliana transgenic plants expressing cyan fluorescent protein through the addition of peroxisomal targeting signal 1 (PTS1), which enables peroxisomes to be visualized in vivo.
When no stress was applied, peroxynitrite was clearly localized in the peroxisomes of roots and stomatal guard cells. Under cadmium (150 μm) stress, the generation of peroxynitrite, nitric oxide and the superoxide anion (O2·–) increased and was localized in peroxisomes and the cytosol, participating in the generation of nitro-oxidative stress.
The results show that peroxisomes are an endogenous source of peroxynitrite, which is over-produced under cadmium stress, suggesting that the metabolism of reactive nitrogen species in peroxisomes could participate in the mechanism of the response to this heavy metal.
Nitric oxide; peroxisomes; peroxynitrite; protein tyrosine nitration; cadmium; heavy metal; nitrosative stress; Arabidopsis thaliana
Background and Aims
Spatial (herkogamy) and temporal (dichogamy) separation of pollen presentation and stigma receptivity have been interpreted as reducing interference between male and female functions in hermaphroditic flowers. However, spatial separation leads to a potential conflict: reduced pollination accuracy, where pollen may be placed in a location on the pollinator different from the point of stigma contact.
To understand better how herkogamous flowers resolve this conflict, a study was made of a subalpine herb, Parnassia epunctulata, the nectariferous flowers of which exhibit sequential anther dehiscence (staggered pollen presentation) and stamen movements; usually one newly dehisced anther is positioned each day over the central gynoecium, while the older stamens bend away from the central position.
The open flowers were visited by a variety of pollinators, most of which were flies. Seed set was pollinator-dependent (bagged flowers set almost no seeds) and pollen-limited (manual pollination increased seed set over open pollination). Analyses of adaptive accuracy showed that coordinated stamen movements and style elongation (movement herkogamy) dramatically increased pollination accuracy. Specifically, dehiscing anthers and receptive stigmas were positioned accurately in the vertical and horizontal planes in relation to the opposite sexual structure and pollinator position. By contrast, the spatial correspondence between anthers and stigma was dramatically lower before the anthers dehisced and after stamens bent outwards, as well as before and after the period of stigmatic receptivity.
It is shown for the first time that a combination of movement herkogamy and dichogamy can maintain high pollination accuracy in flowers with generalized pollination. Staggered pollen and stigma presentation with spatial correspondence can both reduce sexual interference and improve pollination accuracy.
Adaptive accuracy; Celastraceae; dichogamy; generalist pollination; herkogamy; mating system; Parnassia epunctulata; Parnassiaceae; staggered pollen presentation; sexual interference; stamen movement
Background and Aims
Apple (Malus) fruit peduncles are highly modified stems with limited secondary growth because fruit ripening lasts only one season. They must reliably connect rather heavy fruits to the branch and cope with increasing fruit weight, which induces dynamic stresses under oscillating wind loads. This study focuses on tissue modification of these small, exposed structures during fruit development.
A combination of microscopic, static and dynamic mechanical tests, as well as Raman spectroscopy, was used to study structure–function relationships in peduncles of one cultivar and 12 wild species, representatively chosen from all sections of the genus Malus. Tissue differentiation and ontogenetic changes in mechanical properties of Malus peduncles were observed throughout one growing season and after successive removal of tissues.
Unlike in regular stems, the vascular cambium produces mainly phloem during secondary growth. Hence, in addition to a reduced xylem, all species developed a centrally arranged sclerenchyma ring composed of fibres and brachysclereids. Based on differences in cell-wall thickness, and proportions and arrangement of sclereids, two types of peduncle construction could be distinguished. Fibres provide an increased maximum tensile strength and contribute most to the overall axial rigidity of the peduncles. Sclereids contribute insignificantly to peduncle strength; however, despite being shown to have a lower elastic modulus than fibres, they are the most effective tissue in stiffening peduncles against bending.
The experimental data revealed that sclereids originating from cortical parenchyma act as ‘accessory’ cells to enhance proportions of sclerenchyma during secondary growth in peduncles. The mechanism can be interpreted as an adaptation to continuously increasing fruit loads. Under oscillating longitudinal stresses, sclereids may be regarded as regulating elements between maintenance of stiffness and viscous damping, the latter property being attributed to the cortical parenchyma.
Apple; biomechanics; fibres; fruit peduncle; fruit load; functional anatomy; Malus; sclereids; viscous damping
Background and Aims
Zingiberales comprise a clade of eight tropical monocot families including approx. 2500 species and are hypothesized to have undergone an ancient, rapid radiation during the Cretaceous. Zingiberales display substantial variation in floral morphology, and several members are ecologically and economically important. Deep phylogenetic relationships among primary lineages of Zingiberales have proved difficult to resolve in previous studies, representing a key region of uncertainty in the monocot tree of life.
Next-generation sequencing was used to construct complete plastid gene sets for nine taxa of Zingiberales, which were added to five previously sequenced sets in an attempt to resolve deep relationships among families in the order. Variation in taxon sampling, process partition inclusion and partition model parameters were examined to assess their effects on topology and support.
Codon-based likelihood analysis identified a strongly supported clade of ((Cannaceae, Marantaceae), (Costaceae, Zingiberaceae)), sister to (Musaceae, (Lowiaceae, Strelitziaceae)), collectively sister to Heliconiaceae. However, the deepest divergences in this phylogenetic analysis comprised short branches with weak support. Additionally, manipulation of matrices resulted in differing deep topologies in an unpredictable fashion. Alternative topology testing allowed statistical rejection of some of the topologies. Saturation fails to explain observed topological uncertainty and low support at the base of Zingiberales. Evidence for conflict among the plastid data was based on a support metric that accounts for conflicting resampled topologies.
Many relationships were resolved with robust support, but the paucity of character information supporting the deepest nodes and the existence of conflict suggest that plastid coding regions are insufficient to resolve and support the earliest divergences among families of Zingiberales. Whole plastomes will continue to be highly useful in plant phylogenetics, but the current study adds to a growing body of literature suggesting that they may not provide enough character information for resolving ancient, rapid radiations.
Tropical gingers; Zingiberales; plastome; next-generation sequencing; Illumina; phylogeny; evolution; monocots; support; phylogenomics; ancient radiation; plastid gene set
Background and Aims
How generalist plants diverge in response to pollinator selection without becoming specialized is still unknown. This study explores this question, focusing on the evolution of the pollination system in the pollination generalist Erysimum mediohispanicum (Brassicaceae).
Pollinator assemblages were surveyed from 2001 to 2010 in 48 geo-referenced populations covering the entire geographic distribution of E. mediohispanicum. Bipartite modularity, a complex network tool, was used to find the pollination niche of each population. Evolution of the pollination niches and the correlated evolution of floral traits and pollination niches were explored using within-species comparative analyses.
Despite being generalists, the E. mediohispanicum populations studied can be classified into five pollination niches. The boundaries between niches were not sharp, the niches differing among them in the relative frequencies of the floral visitor functional groups. The absence of spatial autocorrelation and phylogenetic signal indicates that the niches were distributed in a phylogeographic mosaic. The ancestral E. mediohispanicum populations presumably belonged to the niche defined by a high number of beetle and ant visits. A correlated evolution was found between pollination niches and some floral traits, suggesting the existence of generalist pollination ecotypes.
It is conjectured that the geographic variation in pollination niches has contributed to the observed floral divergence in E. mediohispanicum. The process mediating this floral divergence presumably has been adaptive wandering, but the adaptation to the local pollinator faunas has been not universal. The outcome is a landscape where a few populations locally adapted to their pollination environment (generalist pollination ecotypes) coexist with many populations where this local adaptation has failed and where the plant phenotype is not primarily shaped by pollinators.
Adaptive wandering; generalist pollination ecotype; pollination niches; floral divergence; Erysimum mediohispanicum; Brassicaceae; speciation
Background and Aims
Interest in pollinator-mediated evolutionary divergence of flower phenotype and speciation in plants has been at the core of plant evolutionary studies since Darwin. Specialized pollination is predicted to lead to reproductive isolation and promote speciation among sympatric species by promoting partitioning of (1) the species of pollinators used, (2) when pollinators are used, or (3) the sites of pollen placement. Here this last mechanism is investigated by observing the pollination accuracy of sympatric Pedicularis species (Orobanchacae).
Pollinator behaviour was observed on three species of Pedicularis (P. densispica, P. tricolor and P. dichotoma) in the Hengduan Mountains, south-west China. Using fluorescent powder and dyed pollen, the accuracy was assessed of stigma contact with, and pollen deposition on, pollinating bumble-bees, respectively.
All three species of Pedicularis were pollinated by bumble-bees. It was found that the adaptive accuracy of female function was much higher than that of male function in all three flower species. Although peak pollen deposition corresponded to the optimal location on the pollinator (i.e. the site of stigma contact) for each species, substantial amounts of pollen were scattered over much of the bees' bodies.
The Pedicularis species studied in the eastern Himalayan region did not conform with Grant's ‘Pedicularis Model’ of mechanical reproductive isolation. The specialized flowers of this diverse group of plants seem unlikely to have increased the potential for reproductive isolation or influenced rates of speciation. It is suggested instead that the extreme species richness of the Pedicularis clade was generated in other ways and that specialized flowers and substantial pollination accuracy evolved as a response to selection generated by the diversity of co-occurring congeners.
Adaptive accuracy; Bombus; evolution; floral precision; Pedicularis densispica; P. tricolor; P. dichotoma; pollination; reproductive isolation; specialization; speciation
Background and Aims
Floral polymorphism is frequently attributed to pollinator-mediated selection. Multiple studies, however, have revealed the importance of non-pollinating visitors in floral evolution. Using the polymorphic annual daisy Ursinia calenduliflora, this study investigated the importance of different insect visitors, and their effects on fitness, in the maintenance of floral polymorphism.
The spatial structure of a discrete floral polymorphism was characterized based on the presence/absence of anthocyanin floret spots in U. calenduliflora. A 3-year observational study was then conducted in polymorphic populations to investigate differences in visitation rates of dominant visitors to floral morphs. Experiments were performed to explore the floral preference of male and female Megapalpus capensis (the dominant insect visitor) and their effectiveness as pollinators. Next, floral damage by antagonistic florivores and the reproductive success of the two floral morphs were surveyed in multiple populations and years.
Floral polymorphism in U. calenduliflora was structured spatially, as were insect visitation patterns. Megapalpus capensis males were the dominant visitors and exhibited strong preference for the spotted morph in natural and experimental observations. While this may indicate potential fitness benefits for the spotted morph, female fitness did not differ between floral morphs. However, as M. capensis males are very efficient at exporting U. calenduliflora pollen, their preference may likely increase the reproductive fitness of the spotted morph through male fitness components. The spotted morph, however, also suffered significantly greater costs due to ovule predation by florivores than the spotless morph.
The results suggest that pollinators and florivores may potentially exert antagonistic selection that could contribute to the maintenance of floral polymorphism across the range of U. calenduliflora. The relative strength of selection imposed by each agent is potentially determined by insect community composition and abundance at each site, highlighting the importance of community context in the evolution of floral phenotypes.
Antagonistic selection; bee flies; community context; floral polymorphism; florivory; monkey beetles; ovule predation; pollen export; pollinator-mediated selection; Ursinia calenduliflora; Megapalpus capensis
Background and Aims
According to the Grant–Stebbins model of pollinator-driven divergence, plants that disperse beyond the range of their specialized pollinator may adapt to a new pollination system. Although this model provides a compelling explanation for pollination ecotype formation, few studies have directly tested its validity in nature. Here we investigate the distribution and pollination biology of several subspecies of the shrub Erica plukenetii from the Cape Floristic Region in South Africa. We analyse these data in a phylogenetic context and combine these results with information on pollinator ranges to test whether the evolution of pollination ecotypes is consistent with the Grant–Stebbins model.
Methods and Key Results
Pollinator observations showed that the most common form of E. plukenetii with intermediate corolla length is pollinated by short-billed Orange-breasted sunbirds. Populations at the northern fringe of the distribution are characterized by long corollas, and are mainly pollinated by long-billed Malachite sunbirds. A population with short corollas in the centre of the range was mainly pollinated by insects, particularly short-tongued noctuid moths. Bird exclusion in this population did not have an effect on fruit set, while insect exclusion reduced fruit set. An analysis of floral scent across the range, using coupled gas chromatography–mass spectrometry, showed that the scent bouquets of flowers from moth-pollinated populations are characterized by a larger number of scent compounds and higher emission rates than those in bird-pollinated populations. This was also reflected in clear separation of moth- and bird-pollinated populations in a two-dimensional phenotype space based on non-metric multidimensional scaling analysis of scent data. Phylogenetic analyses of chloroplast and nuclear DNA sequences strongly supported monophyly of E. plukenetii, but not of all the subspecies. Reconstruction of ancestral character states suggests two shifts from traits associated with short-billed Orange-breasted sunbird pollination: one towards traits associated with moth pollination, and one towards traits associated with pollination by long-billed Malachite sunbirds. The latter shift coincided with the colonization of Namaqualand in which Orange-breasted sunbirds are absent.
Conclusions Erica plukenetii
is characterized by three pollination ecotypes, but only the evolutionary transition from short- to long-billed sunbird pollination can be clearly explained by the Grant–Stebbins model. Corolla length is a key character for both ecotype transitions, while floral scent emission was important for the transition from bird to moth pollination.
Helicoverpa armigera; speciation; benzene propanoids; phylogeny; niche; floral scent; bird pollination; floral trait; ancestral character state; Erica plukenetii; pollination ecotype; Cape flora
Background and Aims
The events leading to speciation are best investigated in systems where speciation is ongoing or incomplete, such as incipient species. By examining reproductive barriers among incipient sister taxa and their congeners we can gain valuable insights into the relative timing and importance of the various barriers involved in the speciation process. The aim of this study was to identify the reproductive barriers among sexually deceptive orchid taxa in the genus Chiloglottis.
The study targeted four closely related taxa with varying degrees of geographic overlap. Chemical, morphological and genetic evidence was combined to explore the basis of reproductive isolation. Of primary interest was the degree of genetic differentiation among taxa at both nuclear and chloroplast DNA markers. To objectively test whether or not species boundaries are defined by the chemistry that controls pollinator specificity, genetic analysis was restricted to samples of known odour chemistry.
Floral odour chemical analysis was performed for 600+ flowers. The three sympatric taxa were defined by their specific chiloglottones, the semiochemicals responsible for pollinator attraction, and were found to be fully cross-compatible. Multivariate morphometric analysis could not reliably distinguish among the four taxa. Although varying from very low to moderate, significant levels of genetic differentiation were detected among all pairwise combinations of taxa at both nuclear and chloroplast loci. However, the levels of genetic differentiation were lower than expected for mature species. Critically, a lack of chloroplast DNA haplotype sharing among the morphologically indistinguishable and most closely related taxon pair confirmed that chemistry alone can define taxon boundaries.
The results confirmed that pollinator isolation, mediated by specific pollinator attraction, underpins strong reproductive isolation in these taxa. A combination of large effective population sizes, initial neutral mutations in the genes controlling floral scent, and a pool of available pollinators likely drives diversity in this system.
Chiloglottis; orchid; Orchidaceae; sexual deception; floral odour; pollination; 2,5-dialkylcyclohexane-1,3-diones; pollinator-driven speciation; population genetic analysis; microsatellites; chloroplast DNA; cpSSRs
Background and Aims
Pollinator landscapes, as determined by pollinator morphology/behaviour, can vary inter- or intraspecifically, imposing divergent selective pressures and leading to geographically divergent floral ecotypes. Assemblages of plants pollinated by the same pollinator (pollinator guilds) should exhibit convergence of floral traits because they are exposed to similar selective pressures. Both convergence and the formation of pollination ecotypes should lead to matching of traits among plants and their pollinators.
We examined 17 floral guild members pollinated in all or part of their range by Prosoeca longipennis, a long-proboscid fly with geographic variation in tongue length. Attractive floral traits such as colour, and nectar properties were recorded in populations across the range of each species. The length of floral reproductive parts, a mechanical fit trait, was recorded in each population to assess possible correlation with the mouthparts of the local pollinator. A multiple regression analysis was used to determine whether pollinators or abiotic factors provided the best explanation for variation in floral traits, and pollinator shifts were recorded in extralimital guild member populations.
Nine of the 17 species were visited by alternative pollinator species in other parts of their ranges, and these displayed differences in mechanical fit and attractive traits, suggesting putative pollination ecotypes. Plants pollinated by P. longipennis were similar in colour throughout the pollinator range. Tube length of floral guild members co-varied with the proboscis length of P. longipennis.
Pollinator shifts have resulted in geographically divergent pollinator ecotypes across the ranges of several guild members. However, within sites, unrelated plants pollinated by P. longipennis are similar in the length of their floral parts, most probably as a result of convergent evolution in response to pollinator morphology. Both of these lines of evidence suggest that pollinators play an important role in selecting for certain floral traits.
Coevolution; ecotype; floral guild; geographic variation; pollination; proboscis length; Prosoeca longipennis; specialization; speciation; trait matching; tube length
Background and Aims
Floral diversification driven by shifts between pollinators has been one of the key explanations for the radiation of angiosperms. According to the Grant–Stebbins model of pollinator-driven speciation, these shifts result in morphologically distinct ‘ecotypes’ which may eventually become recognizable as species. The current circumscription of the food-deceptive southern African orchid Eulophia parviflora encompasses a highly variable monophyletic species complex. In this study, two forms were identified within this complex that differ in distribution, floral morphology, scent chemistry and phenology, and a test was made of whether these differences represent adaptations for different pollinators.
Methods and Results
Multivariate analysis of floral and vegetative traits revealed that there are at least two discrete morphological forms in the species complex. Field observations revealed that each form is pollinated by a different insect species, and thus represent distinct ecotypes. The early-flowering coastal form which has long spurs and floral scent dominated by sesquiterpene compounds is pollinated exclusively by the long-tongued bee Amegilla fallax (Apidae, Anthophorinae), while the late-flowering inland form with short spurs and floral scent dominated by benzenoid compounds is pollinated exclusively by the beetle Cyrtothyrea marginalis (Cetoniinae; Scarabaeidae). Choice experiments in a Y-maze olfactometer showed that beetles are preferentially attracted to the scent of the short-spurred form. A spur-shortening experiment showed that long spurs are required for effective pollination of the bee-pollinated form. Although it was initially thought likely that divergence occurred across a geographical pollinator gradient, plants of the long-spurred form were effectively pollinated when transplanted to an inland locality outside the natural coastal range of this form. Thus, the underlying geographical basis for the evolution of ecotypes in the E. parviflora complex remains uncertain, although early flowering in the long-spurred form to exploit the emergence of naïve bees may restrict this form to coastal areas where there is no frost that would damage flower buds. Later flowering of the short-spurred form coincides closely with the emergence of the pollinating beetles following winter frosts.
This study identifies a shift between bee and beetle pollination as the main driver of floral divergence in an orchid species complex. Floral scent and spur length appear to be key traits in mediating this evolutionary transition.
Grant–Stebbins model; pollinator-driven speciation; pollination ecotypes; scent; Eulophia; Orchidaceae; phenology; beetle pollination; Cetoniinae; bee pollination; Y-maze olfactometer; Amegilla