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1.  Anatomical features associated with water transport in imperforate tracheary elements of vessel-bearing angiosperms 
Annals of Botany  2011;107(6):953-964.
Background and Aims
Imperforate tracheary elements (ITEs) in wood of vessel-bearing angiosperms may or may not transport water. Despite the significance of hydraulic transport for defining ITE types, the combination of cell structure with water transport visualization in planta has received little attention. This study provides a quantitative analysis of structural features associated with the conductive vs. non-conductive nature of ITEs.
Methods
Visualization of water transport was studied in 15 angiosperm species by dye injection and cryo-scanning electron microscopy. Structural features of ITEs were examined using light and electron microscopy.
Key Results
ITEs connected to each other by pit pairs with complete pit membranes contributed to water transport, while cells showing pit membranes with perforations up to 2 µm were hydraulically not functional. A close relationship was found between pit diameter and pit density, with both characters significantly higher in conductive than in non-conductive cells. In species with both conductive and non-conductive ITEs, a larger diameter was characteristic of the conductive cells. Water transport showed no apparent relationship with the length of ITEs and vessel grouping.
Conclusions
The structure and density of pits between ITEs represent the main anatomical characters determining water transport. The pit membrane structure of ITEs provides a reliable, but practically challenging, criterion to determine their conductive status. It is suggested that the term tracheids should strictly be used for conductive ITEs, while fibre-tracheids and libriform fibres are non-conductive.
doi:10.1093/aob/mcr042
PMCID: PMC3080625  PMID: 21385773
Cryo-SEM; dye injection; fibre-tracheid; libriform fibre; pit membrane; pit morphology; secondary xylem; imperforate tracheary element (ITE); tracheid; vessel; water transport
2.  Establishment of zygomorphy on an ontogenic spiral and evolution of perianth in the tribe Delphinieae (Ranunculaceae) 
Annals of Botany  2009;104(5):809-822.
Background and Aims
Ranunculaceae presents both ancestral and derived floral traits for eudicots, and as such is of potential interest to understand key steps involved in the evolution of zygomorphy in eudicots. Zygomorphy evolved once in Ranunculaceae, in the speciose and derived tribe Delphinieae. This tribe consists of two genera (Aconitum and Delphinium s.l.) comprising more than one-quarter of the species of the family. In this paper, the establishment of zygomorphy during development was investigated to cast light on the origin and evolution of this morphological novelty.
Methods
The floral developmental sequence of six species of Ranunculaceae, three actinomorphic (Nigella damascena, Aquilegia alpina and Clematis recta) and three zygomorphic (Aconitum napellus, Delphinium staphisagria and D. grandiflorum), was compared. A developmental model was elaborated to break down the successive acquisitions of floral organ identities on the ontogenic spiral (all the species studied except Aquilegia have a spiral phyllotaxis), giving clues to understanding this complex morphogenesis from an evo-devo point of view. In addition, the evolution of symmetry in Ranunculaceae was examined in conjunction with other traits of flowers and with ecological factors.
Key Results
In the species studied, zygomorphy is established after organogenesis is completed, and is late, compared with other zygomorphic eudicot species. Zygomorphy occurs in flowers characterized by a fixed merism and a partially reduced and transformed corolla.
Conclusions
It is suggested that shifts in expression of genes controlling the merism, as well as floral symmetry and organ identity, have played a critical role in the evolution of zygomorphy in Delphinieae, while the presence of pollinators able to exploit the peculiar morphology of the flower has been a key factor for the maintenance and diversification of this trait.
doi:10.1093/aob/mcp162
PMCID: PMC2749547  PMID: 19608573
Delphinieae; development; evolution; evo-devo; nectar spurs; ontogenic spiral; Ranunculaceae; zygomorphy
3.  Are Petals Sterile Stamens or Bracts? The Origin and Evolution of Petals in the Core Eudicots 
Annals of Botany  2007;100(3):621-630.
Background
The aim of this paper is to discuss the controversial origins of petals from tepals or stamens and the links between the morphological expression of petals and floral organ identity genes in the core eudicots.
Scope
I challenge the widely held classical view that petals are morphologically derived from stamens in the core eudicots, and sepals from tepals or bracts. Morphological data suggest that tepal-derived petals have evolved independently in the major lineages of the core eudicots (i.e. asterids, Santalales and rosids) from Berberidopsis-like prototypes, and that staminodial petals have arisen only in few isolated cases where petals had been previously lost (Caryophyllales, Rosales). The clear correlation between continuous changes in petal morphology, and a scenario that indicates numerous duplications to have taken place in genes controlling floral organ development, can only be fully understood within a phylogenetic context. B-gene expression plays a fundamental role in the evolution of the petals by controlling petaloidy, but it does not clarify petal homology.
Conclusions
An increased synorganization of the flower in the core eudicots linked with the establishment of floral whorls restricts the petaloid gene expression to the second whorl, reducing the similarities of petals with tepals from which they were originally derived. An increased flower size linked with secondary polyandry or polycarpelly may lead to a breakdown of the restricted gene expression and a reversal to ancestral characteristics of perianth development. An altered ‘sliding boundary’ hypothesis is proposed for the core eudicots to explain shifts in petaloidy of the perianth and the event of staminodial petals. The repetitive changes of function in the perianth of the core eudicots are linked with shifts in petaloidy to the outer perianth whorl, or losses of petal or sepal whorls that can be secondarily compensated for by the inclusion of bracts in the flower. The origin and evolution of petals appears to be as complex on a molecular basis as it is from a morphological point of view.
doi:10.1093/aob/mcm076
PMCID: PMC2533615  PMID: 17513305
Apetala 3; Berberidopsis; bract-derived petals; core eudicots; gene expression; perianth evolution; petaloidy; phylogeny; staminodial petals

Results 1-3 (3)