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.
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.