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1.  Floral structure of Emmotum (Icacinaceae sensu stricto or Emmotaceae), a phylogenetically isolated genus of lamiids with a unique pseudotrimerous gynoecium, bitegmic ovules and monosporangiate thecae 
Annals of Botany  2014;114(5):945-959.
Background and Aims
Icacinaceae sensu stricto consist of a group of early branching lineages of lamiids whose relationships are not yet resolved and whose detailed floral morphology is poorly known. The most bizarre flowers occur in Emmotum: the gynoecium has three locules on one side and none on the other. It has been interpreted as consisting of three fertile and two sterile carpels or of one fertile carpel with two longitudinal septa and two sterile carpels. This study focused primarily on the outer and inner morphology of the gynoecium to resolve its disputed structure, and ovule structure was also studied. In addition, the perianth and androecium were investigated.
Flowers and floral buds of two Emmotum species, E. harleyi and E. nitens, were collected and fixed in the field, and then studied by scanning electron microscopy. Microtome section series were used to reconstruct their morphology.
Key Results
The gynoecium in Emmotum was confirmed as pentamerous, consisting of three fertile and two sterile carpels. Each of the three locules behaves as the single locule in other Icacinaceae, with the placenta of the two ovules being identical, which shows that three fertile carpels are present. In addition, it was found that the ovules are bitegmic, which is almost unique in lamiids, and that the stamens have monosporangiate thecae, which also occurs in the closely related family Oncothecaceae, but is not known from any other Icacinaceae sensu lato so far.
The flowers of Emmotum have unique characters at different evolutionary levels: the pseudotrimerous gynoecium at angiosperm level, the bitegmic ovules at lamiid level and the monosporangiate thecae at family or family group level. However, in general, the floral morphology of Emmotum fits well in Icacinaceae. More comparative research on flower structure is necessary in Icacinaceae and other early branching lineages of lamiids to better understand the initial evolution of this large lineage of asterids.
PMCID: PMC4171075  PMID: 25139428
Asterids; Emmotaceae; Emmotum harleyi; E. nitens; Garryales; Icacinaceae; early branching lamiids; anthers; floral morphology; gynoecium; ovules
2.  Holoparasitic Rafflesiaceae possess the most reduced endophytes and yet give rise to the world's largest flowers 
Annals of Botany  2014;114(2):233-242.
Background and Aims
Species in the holoparasitic plant family Rafflesiaceae exhibit one of the most highly modified vegetative bodies in flowering plants. Apart from the flower shoot and associated bracts, the parasite is a mycelium-like endophyte living inside their grapevine hosts. This study provides a comprehensive treatment of the endophytic vegetative body for all three genera of Rafflesiaceae (Rafflesia, Rhizanthes and Sapria), and reports on the cytology and development of the endophyte, including its structural connection to the host, shedding light on the poorly understood nature of this symbiosis.
Serial sectioning and staining with non-specific dyes, periodic–Schiff's reagent and aniline blue were employed in order to characterize the structure of the endophyte across a phylogenetically diverse sampling.
Key Results
A previously identified difference in the nuclear size between Rafflesiaceae endophytes and their hosts was used to investigate the morphology and development of the endophytic body. The endophytes generally comprise uniseriate filaments oriented radially within the host root. The emergence of the parasite from the host during floral development is arrested in some cases by an apparent host response, but otherwise vegetative growth does not appear to elicit suppression by the host.
Rafflesiaceae produce greatly reduced and modified vegetative bodies even when compared with the other holoparasitic angiosperms once grouped with Rafflesiaceae, which possess some vegetative differentiation. Based on previous studies of seeds together with these findings, it is concluded that the endophyte probably develops directly from a proembryo, and not from an embryo proper. Similarly, the flowering shoot arises directly from the undifferentiated endophyte. These filaments produce a protocorm in which a shoot apex originates endogenously by formation of a secondary morphological surface. This degree of modification to the vegetative body is exceptional within angiosperms and warrants additional investigation. Furthermore, the study highlights a mechanical isolation mechanism by which the host may defend itself from the parasite.
PMCID: PMC4111398  PMID: 24942001
Comparative morphology; endophyte; gigantism; holoparasitism; host–parasite relationship; heterochrony; proembryo; Rafflesiaceae; Rafflesia; Rhizanthes; Sapria; Tetrastigma
3.  Advances in the floral structural characterization of the major subclades of Malpighiales, one of the largest orders of flowering plants 
Annals of Botany  2013;111(5):969-985.
Background and Aims
Malpighiales are one of the largest angiosperm orders and have undergone radical systematic restructuring based on molecular phylogenetic studies. The clade has been recalcitrant to molecular phylogenetic reconstruction, but has become much more resolved at the suprafamilial level. It now contains so many newly identified clades that there is an urgent need for comparative studies to understand their structure, biology and evolution. This is especially true because the order contains a disproportionally large diversity of rain forest species and includes numerous agriculturally important plants. This study is a first broad systematic step in this endeavour. It focuses on a comparative structural overview of the flowers across all recently identified suprafamilial clades of Malpighiales, and points towards areas that desperately need attention.
The phylogenetic comparative analysis of floral structure for the order is based on our previously published studies on four suprafamilial clades of Malpighiales, including also four related rosid orders (Celastrales, Crossosomatales, Cucurbitales, Oxalidales). In addition, the results are compiled from a survey of over 3000 publications on macrosystematics, floral structure and embryology across all orders of the core eudicots.
Key Results
Most new suprafamilial clades within Malpighiales are well supported by floral structural features. Inner morphological structures of the gynoecium (i.e. stigmatic lobes, inner shape of the locules, placentation, presence of obturators) and ovules (i.e. structure of the nucellus, thickness of the integuments, presence of vascular bundles in the integuments, presence of an endothelium in the inner integument) appear to be especially suitable for characterizing suprafamilial clades within Malpighiales.
Although the current phylogenetic reconstruction of Malpighiales is much improved compared with earlier versions, it is incomplete, and further focused phylogenetic and morphological studies are needed. Once all major subclades of Malpighiales are elucidated, more in-depth studies on promising structural features can be conducted. In addition, once the phylogenetic tree of Malpighiales, including closely related orders, is more fully resolved, character optimization studies will be possible to reconstruct evolution of structural and biological features within the order.
PMCID: PMC3631340  PMID: 23486341
Androecium; Celastrales; COM clade; core eudicots; evolution; floral structure; gynoecium; Malpighiales; ovules; Oxalidales; phylogeny; rosids
4.  Fusion within and between whorls of floral organs in Galipeinae (Rutaceae): structural features and evolutionary implications 
Annals of Botany  2013;111(5):821-837.
Background and Aims
Most genera of the neotropical Galipeinae (tribe Galipeeae, Rutoideae) exhibit several forms and degrees of fusion between the floral organs, including the union of petals into an apparently sympetalous corolla, the joining of the stamens among themselves and to the corolla, and the partial to complete connation of carpels. Though these and others floral traits are currently used in the circumscription of species in Galipeinae, few studies have shown in detail in which way (postgenital or congenital) and to what extent these fusions occur. To elucidate these anatomical conditions, a structural study of the flowers of the Galipeinae species was carried out.
Flowers of six species from three genera of Galipeinae were studied in their morphology, anatomy and development with stereomicroscopy, light microscopy and scanning electron microscopy (SEM).
Key Results
The floral tube is formed by synorganization of stamens with petals in all species, and exhibits three main patterns: (1) Conchocarpus heterophyllus and C. minutiflorus have a floral tube formed by marginal coherence/adherence of petals and filaments due to interwining trichomes (postgenital connection); (2) Erythrochiton brasiliensis has a tube formed by congenital fusion of petals and filaments; and (3) Galipea jasminiflora and Conchocarpus macrophyllus have a tube formed distally with the first pattern, and proximally with the second pattern. Although floral tubes seem to be homologous within Galipeinae, this is not true at the level of the family: the floral tube of Correa (from an only distantly related clade of the family) is formed by postgenital union of the petals representing a convergent structure. The gynoecium of the studied species of Galipeinae shows a great variability in the extent of fusion of carpel flanks. Even though different structures for the mature gynoecium were found in each genus, all genera show postgenitally fused carpel apices, which is related to the formation of a compitum, as described earlier for other members of Rutaceae.
The degree and diversity of fusions of floral organs in Galipeinae is unique within the order Sapindales. A study of the amount of diversification of Galipeinae in South America and comparison with other clades of Rutaceae would be of interest.
PMCID: PMC3631327  PMID: 23463590
Floral anatomy; floral tubes; floral morphology; false sympetaly; partial apocarpy; syncarpy; postgenital union; floral development
5.  Heterodichogamy in Kingdonia (Circaeasteraceae, Ranunculales) 
Annals of Botany  2012;109(6):1125-1132.
Background and Aims
Preliminary field observations in 2001 and 2002 suggested that Kingdonia uniflora (Circaeasteraceae, Ranunculales) exhibits heterodichogamy, an unusual kind of reproductive heteromorphy, hitherto unreported in Ranunculales and known from only one other genus in basal eudicots.
During several subsequent years flowers were observed in the field. Flowers were fixed in FAA and studied with microtome sections series and with the scanning electron microscope.
Key Results
The flowers proved to be heterodichogamous, with protandrous and protogynous morphs, which have a 1 : 1 ratio. Both morphs equally set fruit. Each year a single flower is formed at the tip of a rhizome or more rarely two flowers. The flowers are already open when they appear at the soil surface, before they are receptive and before pollen is dispersed. In both floral morphs the styles elongate early and the stigmas are positioned above the anthers before anthesis begins. In protogynous flowers the stigmas become receptive in this position; later the styles become reflexed and then the anthers dehisce. In contrast, in protandrous flowers the stamen filaments elongate during early anthesis such that the dehiscing anthers come to lie above the (still unreceptive) stigmas; after dehiscence of all anthers in a flower the styles begin to elongate and become receptive.
This is the first record of heterodichogamy in a representative of Ranunculales, in an herbaceous eudicot, and in a plant with uniflorous ramets. The occurrence of heterodichogamy in Kingdonia in which clonal reproduction appears to be dominant might be an adaptation to avoid mating between the ramets from a common mother individual (genet).
PMCID: PMC3336952  PMID: 22401850
Kingdonia; Circaeasteraceae; Ranunculales; heterodichogamy; reproductive heteromorphy
6.  Floral development and floral phyllotaxis in Anaxagorea (Annonaceae) 
Annals of Botany  2011;108(5):835-845.
Background and Aims
Anaxagorea is the phylogenetically basalmost genus in the large tropical Annonaceae (custard apple family) of Magnoliales, but its floral structure is unknown in many respects. The aim of this study is to analyse evolutionarily interesting floral features in comparison with other genera of the Annonaceae and the sister family Eupomatiaceae.
Live flowers of Anaxagorea crassipetala were examined in the field with vital staining, liquid-fixed material was studied with scanning electron microscopy, and microtome section series were studied with light microscopy. In addition, herbarium material of two other Anaxagorea species was cursorily studied with the dissecting microscope.
Key Results
Floral phyllotaxis in Anaxagorea is regularly whorled (with complex whorls) as in all other Annonaceae with a low or medium number of floral organs studied so far (in those with numerous stamens and carpels, phyllotaxis becoming irregular in the androecium and gynoecium). The carpels are completely plicate as in almost all other Annonaceae. In these features Anaxagorea differs sharply from the sister family Eupomatiaceae, which has spiral floral phyllotaxis and ascidiate carpels. Flat stamens and the presence of inner staminodes differ from most other Annonaceae and may be plesiomorphic in Anaxagorea. However, the inner staminodes appear to be non-secretory in most Anaxagorea species, which differs from inner staminodes in other families of Magnoliales (Eupomatiaceae, Degeneriacae, Himantandraceae), which are secretory.
Floral phyllotaxis in Anaxagorea shows that there is no signature of a basal spiral pattern in Annonaceae and that complex whorls are an apomorphy not just for a part of the family but for the family in its entirety, and irregular phyllotaxis is derived. This and the presence of completely plicate carpels in Anaxagorea makes the family homogeneous and distinguishes it from the closest relatives in Magnoliales.
PMCID: PMC3177678  PMID: 21821626
Anaxagorea; Annonaceae; Magnoliales; Magnoliidae; basal angiosperms; carpels; complex whorls; floral phyllotaxis; inner staminodes; stamens; tepals
7.  Angiosperm ovules: diversity, development, evolution 
Annals of Botany  2011;107(9):1465-1489.
Ovules as developmental precursors of seeds are organs of central importance in angiosperm flowers and can be traced back in evolution to the earliest seed plants. Angiosperm ovules are diverse in their position in the ovary, nucellus thickness, number and thickness of integuments, degree and direction of curvature, and histological differentiations. There is a large body of literature on this diversity, and various views on its evolution have been proposed over the course of time. Most recently evo–devo studies have been concentrated on molecular developmental genetics in ovules of model plants.
The present review provides a synthetic treatment of several aspects of the sporophytic part of ovule diversity, development and evolution, based on extensive research on the vast original literature and on experience from my own comparative studies in a broad range of angiosperm clades.
In angiosperms the presence of an outer integument appears to be instrumental for ovule curvature, as indicated from studies on ovule diversity through the major clades of angiosperms, molecular developmental genetics in model species, abnormal ovules in a broad range of angiosperms, and comparison with gymnosperms with curved ovules. Lobation of integuments is not an atavism indicating evolution from telomes, but simply a morphogenetic constraint from the necessity of closure of the micropyle. Ovule shape is partly dependent on locule architecture, which is especially indicated by the occurrence of orthotropous ovules. Some ovule features are even more conservative than earlier assumed and thus of special interest in angiosperm macrosystematics.
PMCID: PMC3108811  PMID: 21606056
Angiosperms; development; diversity; evo–devo; evolution; integuments; macrosystematics; micropyle; nucellus; ovules; seed plants
8.  Synorganisation without organ fusion in the flowers of Geranium robertianum (Geraniaceae) and its not so trivial obdiplostemony 
Annals of Botany  2010;106(5):687-695.
Background and Aims
Synorganisation of floral organs, an important means in angiosperm flower evolution, is mostly realized by congenital or post-genital organ fusion. Intimate synorganisation of many floral organs without fusion, as present in Geranium robertianum, is poorly known and needs to be studied. Obdiplostemony, the seemingly reversed position of two stamen whorls, widely distributed in core eudicots, has been the subject of much attention, but there is confusion in the literature. Obdiplostemony occurs in Geranium and whether and how it is involved in this synorganisation is explored here.
Floral development and architecture were studied with light microscopy based on microtome section series and with scanning electron microscopy.
Key Results
Intimate synorganisation of floral organs is effected by the formation of five separate nectar canals for the proboscis of pollinators. Each nectar canal is formed by six adjacent organs from four organ whorls. In addition, the sepals are hooked together by the formation of longitudinal ribs and grooves, and provide a firm scaffold for the canals. Obdiplostemony provides a guide rail within each canal formed by the flanks of the antepetalous stamen filaments.
Intimate synorganisation in flowers can be realized without any fusion, and obdiplostemony may play a role in this synorganisation.
PMCID: PMC2958787  PMID: 20802050
Angiosperms; diplostemony; floral architecture; floral development; floral morphology; fusion; Geraniaceae; Geranium robertianum; obdiplostemony; synorganisation
9.  Floral Structure of Kirkia (Kirkiaceae) and its Position in Sapindales 
Annals of Botany  2008;102(4):539-550.
Background and Aims
The monogeneric Kirkiaceae (Sapindales) were formerly placed as Kirkioideae in Simaroubaceae. However, recent molecular phylogenetic studies indicate that they are not in Simaroubaceae and they appear to be sister to the clade of Anacardiaceae plus Burseraceae. Such affinity was never considered or discussed since the first description of Kirkia. The present study is the first detailed analysis of the floral structure of a representative of Kirkiaceae and the first comparison with other sapindalean families, especially Anacardiaceae and Burseraceae.
Floral structure of Kirkia wilmsii was studied using transversal and longitudinal microtome section series, scanning electron microscopy and light microscopy.
Key Results
The flowers of Kirkia wilmsii are morphologically bisexual but functionally unisexual. They are polysymmetric, isomerous (tetramerous) and haplostemonous. The ovary is syncarpous and entirely synascidiate. The floral apex forms a hemispherical protrusion on top of the ovary. The styles are free but postgenitally united and apically form a stigmatic head with a compitum. Each carpel is uniovulate (biovulate in a few other species) and ovules are crassinucellar, bitegmic and slightly campylotropous. The micropyle is formed by both integuments and is unusually long. The unusual two radially disposed locules in each carpel in the former genus Pleiokirkia can be explained developmentally by the two offset and tightly contiguous lateral placentae.
Paralleling the molecular results, a suite of floral features supports the position of Kirkiaceae close to the Anacardiaceae–Burseraceae clade, and not in Simaroubaceae.
PMCID: PMC2701785  PMID: 18687798
Kirkiaceae; floral structure; gynoecium; Sapindales; Anacardiaceae; Burseraceae; monoecy; functional dioecy; heterodichogamy
10.  Floral Morphogenesis in Euptelea (Eupteleaceae, Ranunculales) 
Annals of Botany  2007;100(2):185-193.
Background and Aims
Based on molecular phylogenetic studies, the unigeneric family Eupteleaceae has a prominent phylogenetic position at or near the base of Ranunculales, which, in turn, appear at the base of eudicots. The aim of the present paper is to reveal developmental features of the flowers and to put the genus in a morphological context with other basal eudicots.
Flowers in all developmental stages of Euptelea pleiosperma were collected in the wild at intervals of 7–10 d in the critical stages and studied with a scanning electron microscope.
Key Results
Remnants of a perianth are lacking throughout flower development. Floral symmetry changes from monosymmetric to asymmetric to disymmetric during development. Asymmetry is expressed in that the sequence of stamen initiation is from the centre to both lateral sides on the adaxial side of the flower but starting from one lateral side and proceeding to the other on the abaxial side. Despite the pronounced floral disymmetry, a dimerous pattern of floral organs was not found. The carpel primordia arise between the already large stamens and alternate with them. Stamens and carpels each form a somewhat irregular whorl. The carpels are ascidiate from the beginning. The stigma differentiates as two crests along the ventral slit of the ovary. The few lateral ovules alternate with each other.
Although the flowers have some unusual autapomorphies (wind pollination, lack of a perianth, pronounced disymmetry of the floral base, long connective protrusion, long temporal gap between androecium and gynoecium initiation, small space for carpel initiation), they show some plesiomorphies at the level of basal eudicots (free carpels, basifixed anthers, whorled phyllotaxis), and thus fit well in Ranunculales.
PMCID: PMC2735319  PMID: 17550909
Basal eudicots; Euptelea; Eupteleaceae; floral development; floral phyllotaxis; floral symmetry; Ranunculales; systematics

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