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1.  Rock outcrop orchids reveal the genetic connectivity and diversity of inselbergs of northeastern Brazil 
Background
Because of their fragmented nature, inselberg species are interesting biological models for studying the genetic consequences of disjoint populations. Inselbergs are commonly compared with oceanic islands, as most of them display a marked ecological isolation from the surrounding area. The isolation of these rock outcrops is reflected in the high number of recorded endemic species and the strong floristic differences between individual inselbergs and adjacent habitats. We examined the genetic connectivity of orchids Epidendrum cinnabarinum and E. secundum adapted to Neotropical inselbergs of northeastern Brazil. Our goals were to identify major genetic divergences or disjunctions across the range of the species and to investigate potential demographic and evolutionary mechanisms leading to lineage divergence in Neotropical mountain ecosystems.
Results
Based on plastid markers, high genetic differentiation was found for E. cinnabarinum (FST = 0.644) and E. secundum (FST = 0.636). Haplotypes were not geographically structured in either taxon, suggesting that restricted gene flow and genetic drift may be significant factors influencing the diversification of these inselberg populations. Moreover, strong differentiation was found between populations over short spatial scales, indicating substantial periods of isolation among populations. For E. secundum, nuclear markers indicated higher gene flow by pollen than by seeds.
Conclusions
The comparative approach adopted in this study contributed to the elucidation of patterns in both species. Our results confirm the ancient and highly isolated nature of inselberg populations. Both species showed similar patterns of genetic diversity and structure, highlighting the importance of seed-restricted gene flow and genetic drift as drivers of plant diversification in terrestrial islands such as inselbergs.
doi:10.1186/1471-2148-14-49
PMCID: PMC4004418  PMID: 24629134
Brazilian Atlantic Forest; Caatinga; Chloroplast microsatellites; Epidendrum cinnabarinum; Epidendrum secundum; Genetic drift; Nuclear microsatellites; Orchidaceae
2.  Phylogeographic patterns, genetic affinities and morphological differentiation between Epipactis helleborine and related lineages in a Mediterranean glacial refugium 
Annals of Botany  2010;107(3):427-436.
Background and Aims
In the Mediterranean basin, the Italian peninsula has been suggested to be one of the most important glacial refugia for temperate tree species. The orchid genus Epipactis is widely represented in the Italian peninsula by widespread species and several endemic, localized taxa, including selfing and outcrossing taxa. Here the phylogenetic and phylogeographic relationships in a group of closely related taxa in Epipactis are investigated with the aim of understanding the role of this refugial area for cladogenesis and speciation in herbaceous species, such as terrestrial orchids.
Methods
Ribosomal DNA (rDNA) was employed to assess phylogenetic relationships, and plastid sequence variation in the rbcL–accD spacer was used to reveal phylogeographic patterns among plastid haplotypes using a parsimony network.
Key Results
Low genetic variation and shared ribotypes were detected in rDNA, whereas high levels of sequence variation and a strong phylogeographic structure were found in the examined plastid region. The parsimony plastid haplotype network identified two main haplotype groups, one including E. atrorubens/microphylla/muelleri/leptochila and the other including all accessions of E. helleborine and several localized and endemic taxa, with a combination of widespread and rare haplotypes detected across the Italian peninsula. A greater genetic divergence separated the Italian and other European accessions of E. helleborine.
Conclusions
Phylogenetic and phylogeographic patterns support a working hypothesis in which the Italian peninsula has only recently been colonized by Epipactis, probably during the most recent phase of the Quaternary age and, nevertheless, it acted as a remarkable centre of diversification for this orchid lineage. Changes in pollination strategy and recurrent shifts in mating system (from allogamy to autogamy) could have represented the mechanism promoting this rapid diversification and the observed high taxonomic complexity detected in the E. helleborine species complex.
doi:10.1093/aob/mcq256
PMCID: PMC3043932  PMID: 21193482
Epipactis; chloroplast DNA; genetic variation; plastid haplotype network; mating systems; orchids; plastid spacer; ribosomal spacer
3.  Ecology and genetic diversity of the dense-flowered orchid, Neotinea maculata, at the centre and edge of its range 
Annals of Botany  2008;104(3):507-516.
Background and Aims
Species may occur over a wide geographical range within which populations can display large variation in reproductive success and genetic diversity. Neotinea maculata is a rare orchid of conservation concern at the edge of its range in Ireland, where it occurs in small populations. However, it is relatively common throughout the Mediterranean region. Here, factors that affect rarity of N. maculata in Ireland are investigated by comparing Irish populations with those found in Italy, where it is more common.
Methods
Vegetation communities, breeding system and genetic diversity were compared using three amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) primer pairs in populations in Ireland and Italy. Vegetation was quantified using quadrats taken along transects in study populations, and hand pollination experiments were performed to assess reliance of N. maculata on pollinators in both Irish and Italian populations.
Key Results
Neotinea maculata occupies different vegetation communities in Italian and Irish populations. Breeding system experiments show that N. maculata is 100 % autogamous, and there are no differences in fruit and seed production in selfed, outcrossed and unmanipulated plants. AFLP markers revealed that Irish and Italian populations have similar genetic diversity and are distinct from each other.
Conclusions
Neotinea maculata does not suffer any negative effects of autogamous reproduction; it self-pollinates and sets seed readily in the absence of pollinators. It occupies a variety of habitats in both Ireland and Italy; however, Irish populations are small and rare and should be conserved. This could be due to climatic factors and the absence of suitable soil mycorrhizas to allow recruitment from seed.
doi:10.1093/aob/mcn200
PMCID: PMC2720646  PMID: 18940852
Neotinea maculata; AFLP; autogamy; conservation; genetic diversity; Lusitanian species; pollination
4.  Hybrid floral scent novelty drives pollinator shift in sexually deceptive orchids 
Background
Sexually deceptive orchids of the genus Ophrys attract their pollinators, male insects, on a highly specific basis through the emission of odour blends that mimic the female sex pheromone of the targeted species. In this study, we have investigated a contact site between Ophrys arachnitiformis and O. lupercalis, two sympatric orchid species that are usually reproductively isolated via the exploitation of different pollinator "niches", but occasionally hybridise despite their apparent combination of ethological and mechanical isolation barriers. In particular, we have investigated the extent to which these Ophrys hybrids generate "emergent" combinations (i.e. novel and unpredictable from the parents' phenotypes) of floral traits, and how these phenotypic novelties, particularly the odour blends emitted by the flower, could facilitate the invasion of a novel pollinator "niche" and induce the rapid formation of reproductive isolation, a prerequisite for adaptive evolutionary divergence.
Results
Our chemical analyses of floral scents show that the Ophrys F1 hybrids investigated here produce more compounds, significantly different ratios (% of odour compounds in the total blend), as well as new compounds in their floral odour compared to their progenitors. When tested for their attractiveness to the pollinator of each parent orchid species, we found that floral scent extracts of the hybrids triggered less inspecting flights and contacts by the male bees with the scented dummy than those of the parental orchid species. However, a series of additional behavioural bioassays revealed that the novel floral scent of the hybrids was significantly more attractive than either of the two parents to a pollinator species not initially involved in the pollination of any of the parent Ophrys species.
Conclusions
Collectively, our results illustrate that the process of hybridisation can lead to the generation of evolutionary novelties, and that novel combinations of floral traits can drive pollinator shifts and rapid reproductive isolation in highly specific plant-pollinator interactions.
doi:10.1186/1471-2148-10-103
PMCID: PMC2875231  PMID: 20409296
5.  Phytotoxic Antibiotic Sulfadimethoxine Elicits a Complex Hormetic Response in the Weed Lythrum Salicaria L 
Dose-Response  2010;8(4):414-427.
In order to evaluate the hormetic response of the weed Lythrum salicaria to drug exposure we investigated the effects of the antibiotic Sulfadimethoxine by growing Lythrum plants for 28 days on culture media containing different drug concentrations (between 0.005 and 50 mg.L−1). The antibiotic was absorbed by plants and can be found in plant tissue. The plant response was organ-dependent: roots, cotyledons and cotyledon petioles, were always affected by a toxic effect, whilst internodes and leaves length, showed a variable dose-depending response, with an increased growth at the lower drug concentrations and toxic effects at the higher ones. This variable response was probably dependant on different levels of local contamination resulting from a balance between accumulation rate and drug dilution in the increasing plant biomass. As a consequence, drug toxicity or hormetic response varied according to concentration and were different in each of the examined plant organ/tissue. Thus, even if hormesis can be considered a general plant response, each plant organ/tissue responds differently, depending on the local drug concentration and exposure time.
doi:10.2203/dose-response.09-033.Migliore
PMCID: PMC2990061  PMID: 21191482
Hormesis; Lythrum salicaria; Sulfadimethoxine; Antibiotic; Phytotoxicity; Weed
6.  Specificity in pollination and consequences for postmating reproductive isolation in deceptive Mediterranean orchids 
The type of reproductive isolation prevalent in the initial stages of species divergence can affect the nature and rate of emergence of additional reproductive barriers that subsequently strengthen isolation between species. Different groups of Mediterranean deceptive orchids are characterized by different levels of pollinator specificity. Whereas food-deceptive orchid species show weak pollinator specificity, the sexually deceptive Ophrys species display a more specialized pollination strategy. Comparative analyses reveal that orchids with high pollinator specificity mostly rely on premating reproductive barriers and have very little postmating isolation. In this group, a shift to a novel pollinator achieved by modifying the odour bouquet may represent the main isolation mechanism involved in speciation. By contrast, orchids with weak premating isolation, such as generalized food-deceptive orchids, show strong evidence for intrinsic postmating reproductive barriers, particularly for late-acting postzygotic barriers such as hybrid sterility. In such species, chromosomal differences may have played a key role in species isolation, although strong postmating–prezygotic isolation has also evolved in these orchids. Molecular analyses of hybrid zones indicate that the types and strength of reproductive barriers in deceptive orchids with contrasting premating isolation mechanisms directly affect the rate and evolutionary consequences of hybridization and the nature of species differentiation.
doi:10.1098/rstb.2008.0079
PMCID: PMC2607316  PMID: 18579475
embryo mortality; food deception; hybrid inviability; hybrid sterility; premating isolation; postmating isolation
7.  Cross-amplification and characterization of microsatellite loci for the Neotropical orchid genus Epidendrum 
Genetics and Molecular Biology  2009;32(2):337-339.
In this study we tested the cross-amplification of 33 microsatellite loci previously developed for two closely related Neotropical orchid genera (Epidendrum and Laelia). A set of ten loci were polymorphic across five examined species (20 individuals each) with 2 to 15 alleles per locus. The mean expected and observed heterozygosity (average across species) ranged from 0.34 to 0.82 and from 0.27 to 0.85, respectively. In addition we tested all loci in 35 species representative of the genus Epidendrum. Of these, 26 loci showed successful amplification. Cross-application of these loci represent a potential source of co-dominant markers for evolutionary, ecological and conservation studies in this important orchid genus.
doi:10.1590/S1415-47572009005000037
PMCID: PMC3036911  PMID: 21637689
Epidendrum; Orchidaceae; short tandem repeat; cross-amplification
8.  Variability in Floral Scent in Rewarding and Deceptive Orchids: The Signature of Pollinator-imposed Selection? 
Annals of Botany  2007;100(4):757-765.
Background and Aims
A comparative investigation was made of floral scent variation in the closely related, food-rewarding Anacamptis coriophora and the food-deceptive Anacamptis morio in order to identify patterns of variability of odour compounds in the two species and their role in pollinator attraction/avoidance learning.
Methods
Scent was collected from plants in natural populations and samples were analysed via quantitative gas chromatography and mass spectrometry. Combined gas chromatography and electroantennographic detection was used to identify compounds that are detected by the pollinators. Experimental reduction of scent variability was performed in the field with plots of A. morio plants supplemented with a uniform amount of anisaldehyde.
Key Results
Both orchid species emitted complex odour bouquets. In A. coriophora the two main benzenoid compounds, hydroquinone dimethyl ether (1,4-dimethoxybenzene) and anisaldehyde (methoxybenzaldehyde), triggered electrophysiological responses in olfactory neurons of honey-bee and bumble-bee workers. The scent of A. morio, however, was too weak to elicit any electrophysiological responses. The overall variation in scent was significantly lower in the rewarding A. coriophora than in the deceptive A. morio, suggesting pollinator avoidance-learning selecting for high variation in the deceptive species. A. morio flowers supplemented with non-variable scent in plot experiments, however, did not show significantly reduced pollination success.
Conclusions
Whereas in the rewarding A. coriophora stabilizing selection imposed by floral constancy of the pollinators may reduce scent variability, in the deceptive A. morio the emitted scent seems to be too weak to be detected by pollinators and thus its high variability may result from relaxed selection on this floral trait.
doi:10.1093/aob/mcm161
PMCID: PMC2749627  PMID: 17684024
Anacamptis coriophora; Anacamptis morio; food deception; floral odour; GC-EAD; pollination; scentless flowers
9.  Evolution of sexual mimicry in the orchid subtribe orchidinae: the role of preadaptations in the attraction of male bees as pollinators 
Background
Within the astonishing diversity of orchid pollination systems, sexual deception is one of the most stunning. An example is the genus Ophrys, where plants attract male bees as pollinators by mimicking female mating signals. Unsaturated hydrocarbons (alkenes) are often the key signal for this chemical mimicry. Here we investigate the evolution of these key compounds within Orchidinae by mapping their production in flowers of selected species onto their estimated phylogeny.
Results
We found that alkenes, at least in trace amounts, were present in 18 of 20 investigated species together representing 10 genera. Thus, the reconstruction of ancestral state for alkene-production showed that this is a primitive character state in Ophrys, and can be interpreted as a preadaptation for the evolution of sexual deception. Four of the investigated species, namely Ophrys sphegodes, Serapias lingua, S. cordigera, and Anacamptis papilionacea, that are pollinated primarily by male bees, produced significantly larger amounts and a greater number of different alkenes than the species pollinated either primarily by female bees or other insects.
Conclusion
We suggest that high amounts of alkenes evolved for the attraction of primarily male bees as pollinators by sensory exploitation, and discuss possible driving forces for the evolution of pollination by male bees.
doi:10.1186/1471-2148-8-27
PMCID: PMC2267782  PMID: 18226206
10.  Evidence for reproductive isolate selection in Mediterranean orchids: karyotype differences compensate for the lack of pollinator specificity. 
Mediterranean orchids of the subtribe Orchidinae are highly diverse and display a range of fascinating pollination strategies. Based on observations that orchid-pollinator relationships are often highly specialized and species specific, Darwin and others have argued that selection for different pollinators has been the driving force behind the evolutionary diversification of orchids. This may be true for orchids that attract different, specialized pollinators that act as prezygotic reproductive barriers. It is, however, not clear how closely related co-flowering Mediterranean orchids that share pollinators survive the challenge of sympatry. We show that species pairs with a generalized pool of pollinators have significantly more divergent karyotypes compared with species pairs with different pollinators. These results show that karyotype differences that act as postzygotic reproductive barriers may have played an important role in the evolution of Mediterranean orchid diversity.
PMCID: PMC1810064  PMID: 15503988
11.  Evidence for pollinator sharing in Mediterranean nectar-mimic orchids: absence of premating barriers? 
Pollinator specificity has traditionally been considered the main reproductive isolation mechanism in orchids. Among Mediterranean orchids, however, many species attract and deceive pollinators by mimicking nectar-rewarding plants. To test the extent to which deceptive orchid species share pollinators, we collected and identified hemipollinaria-carrying insects, and used ribosomal sequences to identify the orchid species from which hemipollinaria were removed. We found that social and solitary bees, and also flies, carried hemipollinaria belonging to nine orchid species with different degrees of specialization. In particular, Anacamptis morio, Dactylorhiza romana and Orchis mascula used a large set of pollinator species, whereas others such as Orchis quadripunctata seemed to be pollinated by one pollinator species only. Out of the insects with hemipollinaria, 19% were found to carry hemipollinaria from more than one orchid species, indicating that sympatric food-deceptive orchids can share pollinators. This sharing was apparent even among orchid sister-species, thus revealing an effective overlap in pollinator sets among closely related species. These results suggest varying degrees of pollinator specificity in these orchids, and indicate that pollinator specificity cannot always act as the main isolation mechanism in food-deceptive temperate orchids.
doi:10.1098/rspb.2005.3069
PMCID: PMC1564100  PMID: 16024392
bees; hemipollinaria; nuclear rDNA internal transcribed spacer; pollination; orchids; reproductive isolation
12.  Phylogenetic relationships and taxonomic position of Chlorella-like isolates from low pH environments (pH < 3.0) 
Background
Little is known about phytoplankton communities inhabiting low pH environments such as volcanic and geothermal sites or acidic waters. Only specialised organisms are able to tolerate such extreme conditions. There is, thus, low species diversity. We have characterised the previously isolated acid tolerant Chlorella-like microalgae Viridiella fridericiana and Chlorella protothecoides var. acidicola by microscopical and biomolecular methods in order to assess their phylogenetic relationships.
Results
Both isolates belong to the trebouxiophycean lineage of chlorophytes. 18S and ITS1 sequence data clearly confirm that Viridiella fridericiana constitutes a new genus apart from the morphologically similar and likewise acid tolerant microalga Chlorella saccharophila. Chlorella protothecoides var. acidicola on the other hand is not a variety of Chlorella protothecoides but falls within a heterogeneous cluster consisting of Nannochloris, "Chlorella" spec. Yanaqocha, and Koliella, and is most closely related to algae which were also isolated from extreme environments.
Conclusions
The distribution of acid tolerant strains in the 18S rRNA tree shows that acquisition of acid tolerance was unlikely a monophyletic event in green microalgae. We propose that different strains have independently adapted to extreme environments. Some of them have spread worldwide and were able to colonise other extreme habitats. Considering the problems of successfully isolating acid tolerant strains, acidic soils could represent an unsuspected source of biological diversity with high potential for biotechnological utilisations.
doi:10.1186/1471-2148-2-13
PMCID: PMC126256  PMID: 12194702

Results 1-12 (12)