Background and Aims
Disturbances occur in most ecological systems, and play an important role in biological invasions. We delimit five key disturbance aspects: intensity, frequency, timing, duration and extent. Few studies address more than one of these aspects, yet interactions and interdependence between aspects may lead to complex outcomes.
In a two-cohort experimental study, we examined how multiple aspects (intensity, frequency and timing) of a mowing disturbance regime affect the survival, phenology, growth and reproduction of an invasive thistle Carduus nutans (musk thistle).
Our results show that high intensity and late timing strongly delay flowering phenology and reduce plant survival, capitulum production and plant height. A significant interaction between intensity and timing further magnifies the main effects. Unexpectedly, high frequency alone did not effectively reduce reproduction. However, a study examining only frequency and intensity, and not timing, would have erroneously attributed the importance of timing to frequency.
We used management of an invasive species as an example to demonstrate the importance of a multiple-aspect disturbance framework. Failure to consider possible interactions, and the inherent interdependence of certain aspects, could result in misinterpretation and inappropriate management efforts. This framework can be broadly applied to improve our understanding of disturbance effects on individual responses, population dynamics and community composition.
Carduus nutans; thistle; disturbance timing; frequency; intensity; invasive species; mowing; population biology
Background and Aims
For 84 years, botanists have relied on calculating the highest common factor for series of haploid chromosome numbers to arrive at a so-called basic number, x. This was done without consistent (reproducible) reference to species relationships and frequencies of different numbers in a clade. Likelihood models that treat polyploidy, chromosome fusion and fission as events with particular probabilities now allow reconstruction of ancestral chromosome numbers in an explicit framework. We have used a modelling approach to reconstruct chromosome number change in the large monocot family Araceae and to test earlier hypotheses about basic numbers in the family.
Using a maximum likelihood approach and chromosome counts for 26 % of the 3300 species of Araceae and representative numbers for each of the other 13 families of Alismatales, polyploidization events and single chromosome changes were inferred on a genus-level phylogenetic tree for 113 of the 117 genera of Araceae.
The previously inferred basic numbers x = 14 and x = 7 are rejected. Instead, maximum likelihood optimization revealed an ancestral haploid chromosome number of n = 16, Bayesian inference of n = 18. Chromosome fusion (loss) is the predominant inferred event, whereas polyploidization events occurred less frequently and mainly towards the tips of the tree.
The bias towards low basic numbers (x) introduced by the algebraic approach to inferring chromosome number changes, prevalent among botanists, may have contributed to an unrealistic picture of ancestral chromosome numbers in many plant clades. The availability of robust quantitative methods for reconstructing ancestral chromosome numbers on molecular phylogenetic trees (with or without branch length information), with confidence statistics, makes the calculation of x an obsolete approach, at least when applied to large clades.
Araceae; Bayesian inference; chromosome evolution; haploid chromosome number; dysploidy; maximum likelihood inference; polyploidy
Background and Aims
The potential for gene exchange between species with different ploidy levels has long been recognized, but only a few studies have tested this hypothesis in situ and most of them focused on not more than two co-occurring species. In this study, we examined hybridization patterns in two sites containing three species of the genus Dactylorhiza (diploid D. incarnata and D. fuchsii and their allotetraploid derivative D. praetermissa).
To compare the strength of reproductive barriers between diploid species, and between diploid and tetraploid species, crossing experiments were combined with morphometric and molecular analyses using amplified fragment length polymorphism markers, whereas flow cytometric analyses were used to verify the hybrid origin of putative hybrids.
In both sites, extensive hybridization was observed, indicating that gene flow between species is possible within the investigated populations. Bayesian assignment analyses indicated that the majority of hybrids were F1 hybrids, but in some cases triple hybrids (hybrids with three species as parents) were observed, suggesting secondary gene flow. Crossing experiments showed that only crosses between pure species yielded a high percentage of viable seeds. When hybrids were involved as either pollen-receptor or pollen-donor, almost no viable seeds were formed, indicating strong post-zygotic reproductive isolation and high sterility.
Strong post-mating reproductive barriers prevent local breakdown of species boundaries in Dactylorhiza despite frequent hybridization between parental species. However, the presence of triple hybrids indicates that in some cases hybridization may extend the F1 generation.
AFLP; Dactylorhiza incarnata; Dactylorhiza praetermissa; genetic analysis; hybridization; morphology; polyploidy; reproductive isolation; triple hybrid
Background and Aims
The analysis of variability in mineral allocation to seeds has rarely been considered in relation to allometric patterns and deviations from the allometric trajectory. Here, I examine the scaling of carbon (C), nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and sulfur (S) with seed mass in field-collected seeds of Hedera helix, taking into account that brood size might influence the allocation patterns.
C, N and S contents of 56 individual seeds of different sizes were analysed by combustion using a standard automated CNHS procedure. P content was determined for 200 individual seeds using spectrophotometry after acid digestion of ashed samples. This sample included seeds from different brood sizes.
C and N content both varied isometrically with seed mass and this variable explained most of the variation in their content in seeds. P and S, however, varied allometrically with seed mass. Additionally, seed mass only explained 37·3 % and 37·6 % of the total variance in P and S content, respectively. Seeds with higher mass contained proportionately more P and, furthermore, the seeds from small broods contained proportionally more P than those from large broods.
Although seed mass in this species can be used as a surrogate of investment in C and N, it does not account for variability in allocation of nutrients such as P and S. The fact that larger seeds increased their P concentration when found in smaller broods might be a consequence of intense competition for this nutrient among developing seeds. Then, brood size may influence the mineral nutrient concentration of seeds.
Allocation; phosphorus; nitrogen; stoichiometry; seed mass; brood size; sibling rivalry
Background and Aims
The functions of plant latex have been discussed for a long time. Today, many studies support a defence mechanism as being its main function. A role as a self-healing mechanism was never attributed to the coagulation of latex. In this study we quantified the contribution of the coagulation of Ficus benjamina (weeping fig) latex to a restoration of the mechanical properties of the bark after external lesions.
Tensile tests of F. benjamina bark were conducted either immediately after injury or at various latency times after injury.
A significant increase in the tensile strength of bark samples until 30 min after injury was found, and this effect could be attributed to the coagulation of plant latex alone. The tensile strength remains nearly constant until several hours or days after injury. Then, very probably due to other mechanisms such as cell growth and cell proliferation, the tensile strength begins to increase slightly again.
The coagulation of latex seals lesions and serves as a quick and effective pre-step of subsequent, more effective, long-lasting self-healing mechanisms such as cell growth and proliferation. Thus, a fast self-healing effect can be included in the list of functions of plant latex.
Self-healing; latex coagulation; tensile strength; external lesion; Ficus benjamina
Background and Aims
Self-pollination dominates in wheat, with a small level of out-crossing due to flowering asynchrony and male sterility. However, the timing and synchrony of male and female flowering in wheat is a crucial determinant of seed set and may be an important factor affecting gene flow and resilience to climate change. Here, a methodology is presented for assessing the timing and synchrony of flowering in wheat, Triticum aestivum.
From the onset of flowering until the end of anthesis, the anther and stigma activity of each floret was assessed on the first five developing ears in potted plants grown under ambient conditions and originating from ‘Paragon’ or ‘Spark-Rialto’ backgrounds. At harvest maturity, seed presence, size and weight was recorded for each floret scored.
Key Results and Conclusions
The synchrony between pollen dehiscence and stigma collapse within a flower was dependent on its relative position in a spike and within a floret. Determined on the basis of synchrony within each flower, the level of pollination by pollen originating from other flowers reached approx. 30 % and did not change throughout the duration of flowering. A modelling exercise parameterized by flowering observations indicated that the temporal and spatial variability of anther activity within and between spikes may influence the relative resilience of wheat to sudden, extreme climatic events which has direct relevance to predicted future climate scenarios in the UK.
Wheat; Triticum aestivum; flowering synchrony; pollination; climate change; heat resistance
Background and Aims
Satellite DNA is a genomic component present in virtually all eukaryotic organisms. The turnover of highly repetitive satellite DNA is an important element in genome organization and evolution in plants. Here we assess the presence and physical distribution of the repetitive DNA E180 family in Medicago and allied genera. Our goals were to gain insight into the karyotype evolution of Medicago using satellite DNA markers, and to evaluate the taxonomic and phylogenetic signal of a satellite DNA family in a genus hypothesized to have a complex evolutionary history.
Seventy accessions from Medicago, Trigonella, Melilotus and Trifolium were analysed by PCR to assess the presence of the repetitive E180 family, and fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) was used for physical mapping in somatic chromosomes.
The E180 repeat unit was PCR-amplified in 37 of 40 taxa in Medicago, eight of 12 species of Trigonella, six of seven species of Melilotus and in two of 11 Trifolium species. Examination of the mitotic chromosomes revealed that only 13 Medicago and two Trigonella species showed FISH signals using the E180 probe. Stronger hybridization signals were observed in subtelomeric and interstitial loci than in the pericentromeric loci, suggesting this satellite family has a preferential genomic location. Not all 13 Medicago species that showed FISH localization of the E180 repeat were phylogenetically related. However, nine of these species belong to the phylogenetically derived clade including the M. sativa and M. arborea complexes.
The use of the E180 family as a phylogenetic marker in Medicago should be viewed with caution. Its amplification appears to have been produced through recurrent and independent evolutionary episodes in both annual and perennial Medicago species as well as in basal and derived clades.
Medicago; Trigonella; Melilotus; Trifolium; satellite DNA; repetitive E180 family; FISH
Background and Aims
The family Balsaminaceae is essentially herbaceous, except for some woodier species that can be described as ‘woody’ herbs or small shrubs. The family is nested within the so-called balsaminoid clade of Ericales, including the exclusively woody families Tetrameristaceae and Marcgraviaceae, which is sister to the remaining families of the predominantly woody order. A molecular phylogeny of Balsaminaceae is compared with wood anatomical observations to find out whether the woodier species are derived from herbaceous taxa (i.e. secondary woodiness), or whether woodiness in the family represents the ancestral state for the order (i.e. primary woodiness).
Wood anatomical observations of 68 Impatiens species and Hydrocera triflora, of which 47 are included in a multigene phylogeny, are carried out using light and scanning electron microscopy and compared with the molecular phylogenetic insights.
There is much continuous variation in wood development between the Impatiens species studied, making the distinction between herbaceousness and woodiness difficult. However, the most woody species, unambiguously considered as truly woody shrubs, all display paedomorphic wood features pointing to secondary woodiness. This hypothesis is further supported by the molecular phylogeny, demonstrating that these most woody species are derived from herbaceous (or less woody) species in at least five independent clades. Wood formation in H. triflora is mostly confined to the ribs of the stems and shows paedomorphic wood features as well, suggesting that the common ancestor of Balsaminaceae was probably herbaceous.
The terms ‘herbaceousness’ and ‘woodiness’ are notoriously difficult to use in Balsaminaceae. However, anatomical observations and molecular sequence data show that the woodier species are derived from less woody or clearly herbaceous species, demonstrating that secondary woodiness has evolved in parallel.
Balsaminaceae; herbaceousness; Hydrocera; Impatiens; insular woodiness; light microscopy; primary woodiness; secondary woodiness; wood anatomy
Background and Aims
Fine-scale, spatial heterogeneity in soil nutrient availability can increase the growth of individual plants, the productivity of plant communities and interspecific competition. If this is due to the ability of plants to concentrate their roots where nutrient levels are high, then nutrient heterogeneity should have little effect on intraspecific competition, especially when there are no genotypic differences between individuals in root plasticity. We tested this hypothesis in a widespread, clonal species in which individual plants are known to respond to nutrient heterogeneity.
Plants derived from a single clone of Alternanthera philoxeroides were grown in the greenhouse at low or high density (four or 16 plants per 27·5 × 27·5-cm container) with homogeneous or heterogeneous availability of soil nutrients, keeping total nutrient availability per container constant. After 9 weeks, measurements of size, dry mass and morphology were taken.
Plants grew more in the heterogeneous than in the homogeneous treatment, showing that heterogeneity promoted performance; they grew less in the high- than in the low-density treatment, showing that plants competed. There was no interactive effect of nutrient heterogeneity and plant density, supporting the hypothesis that heterogeneity does not affect intraspecific competition in the absence of genotypic differences in plasticity. Treatments did not affect morphological characteristics such as specific leaf area or root/shoot ratio.
Results indicate that fine-scale, spatial heterogeneity in the availability of soil nutrients does not increase competition when plants are genetically identical, consistent with the suggestion that effects of heterogeneity on competition depend upon differences in plasticity between individuals. Heterogeneity is only likely to increase the spread of monoclonal, invasive populations such as that of A. philoxeroides in China.
Alligator weed; Alternanthera philoxeroides; clonal plant; competition; density effect; intraspecific interaction; log response ratio; resource heterogeneity; spatial heterogeneity
Background and Aims
Dendroclimatology is playing an important role in understanding past climatic changes on the Tibetan Plateau. Forests, however, are mainly confined to the eastern Tibetan Plateau. On the central Tibetan Plateau, in contrast, shrubs and dwarf shrubs need to be studied instead of trees as a source of climate information. The objectives of this study were to check the dendrochronological potential of the dwarf shrub Wilson juniper (Juniperus pingii var. wilsonii) growing from 4740 to 4780 m a.s.l. and to identify the climatic factors controlling its radial growth.
Forty-three discs from 33 stems of Wilson juniper were sampled near the north-eastern shore of the Nam Co (Heavenly Lake). Cross-dating was performed along two directions of each stem, avoiding the compression-wood side as far as possible. A ring-width chronology was developed after a negative exponential function or a straight line of any slope had been fit to the raw measurements. Then, correlations were calculated between the standard ring-width chronology and monthly climate data recorded by a weather station around 100 km away.
Our study has shown high dendrochronological potential of Wilson juniper, based on its longevity (one individual was 324 years old), well-defined growth rings, reliable cross-dating between individuals and distinct climatic signals reflected by the ring-width variability. Unlike dwarf shrubs in the circum-arctic tundra ecosystem which positively responded to above-average temperature in the growing season, moisture turned out to be growth limiting for Wilson juniper, particularly the loss of moisture caused by high maximum temperatures in May–June.
Because of the wide distribution of shrub and dwarf shrub species on the central Tibetan Plateau, an exciting prospect was opened up to extend the presently existing tree-ring networks far up into one of the largest tundra regions of the world.
Central Tibetan Plateau; high altitude; Juniperus pingii var. wilsonii; dwarf shrub; cross-dating; dendrochronology; dendroclimatology; growth ring; tree ring; growth-limiting factor; climate proxy
Background and Aims
Seeds can accumulate in the soil or elsewhere, such as on the stems of palms when these are covered by persistent sheaths. These sheaths could act as a safe site for some species. Here, we studied whether persistent sheaths of the palm Attalea phalerata (Arecaceae) are available sites for seed accumulation in the Pantanal wetland of Brazil. We also investigated whether the composition, richness and diversity of species of seeds in the persistent sheaths are determined by habitat (riparian forest and forest patches) and/or season (wet and dry).
All accumulated material was collected from ten persistent sheaths along the stems of 64 A. phalerata individuals (16 per habitat and 16 per season). The material was then individually inspected under a stereomicroscope to record seed species and number.
Of the 640 sheaths sampled, 65 % contained seeds (n = 3468). This seed bank included 75 species belonging to 12 families, and was primarily composed of small, endozoochoric seeds, with a few abundant species (Cecropia pachystachya and Ficus pertusa). Moraceae was the richest family (four species) and Urticaceae the most abundant (1594 seeds). Stems of A. phalerata in the riparian forest had 1·8 times more seeds and 1·3 times more species than those in forest patches. In the wet season we sampled 4·1 times more seeds and 2·2 more species on palm stems than in the dry season. Richness did not differ between habitats, but was higher in the wet season. Abundance was higher in forest patches and in the wet season.
Attalea phalerata stems contain a rich seed bank, comparable to soil seed banks of tropical forests. As most of these seeds are not adapted to grow in flooding conditions, palm stems might be regarded as safe sites for seeds (and seedlings) to escape from the seasonal flooding of the Pantanal.
Attalea phalerata; Cecropia pachystachya; Ficus; hemi-epiphyte; palm tree; palm seed bank; phorophyte; seed community; seed dispersal; Pantanal wetland; Brazil
Background and Aims
Hybrid proline-rich proteins (HyPRPs) represent a large family of putative cell-wall proteins characterized by the presence of a variable N-terminal domain and a conserved C-terminal domain that is related to non-specific lipid transfer proteins. The function of HyPRPs remains unclear, but their widespread occurrence and abundant expression patterns indicate that they may be involved in a basic cellular process.
To elucidate the cellular function of HyPRPs, we modulated the expression of three HyPRP genes in tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum) BY-2 cell lines and in potato (Solanum tuberosum) plants.
In BY-2 lines, over-expression of the three HyPRP genes with different types of N-terminal domains resulted in similar phenotypic changes, namely increased cell elongation, both in suspension culture and on solid media where the over-expression resulted in enhanced calli size. The over-expressing cells showed increased plasmolysis in a hypertonic mannitol solution and accelerated rate of protoplast release, suggesting loosening of the cell walls. In contrast to BY-2 lines, no phenotypic changes were observed in potato plants over-expressing the same or analogous HyPRP genes, presumably due to more complex compensatory mechanisms in planta.
Based on the results from BY-2 lines, we propose that HyPRPs, more specifically their C-terminal domains, represent a novel group of proteins involved in cell expansion.
Cell extension; cell wall loosening; cell wall protein; hybrid proline-rich proteins; HyPRP; lipid transfer proteins; LTP; potato; Solanum tuberosum; tobacco; Nicotiana tabacum; BY-2 cell line
Background and Aim
Anagenesis (also known as phyletic speciation) is an important process of speciation in endemic species of oceanic islands. We investigated genetic variation in Acer okamotoanum, an anagenetically derived species endemic to Ullung Island, South Korea, to infer genetic consequences of anagenesis in comparison with other groups that have undergone cladogenesis (and adaptive radiation).
We examined genetic variation based on eight polymorphic microsatellite markers from 145 individuals of A. okamotoanum and 134 individuals of its putative progenitor A. mono. We employed standard population genetic analyses, clustering analyses, Bayesian clustering analyses in STRUCTURE and bottleneck analyses.
Based on both the Neighbor–Joining tree and Bayesian clustering analyses, clear genetic distinctions were found between the two species. Genetic diversity in terms of allelic richness and heterozygosity shows slightly lower levels in A. okamotoanum in comparison with A. mono. Bayesian clustering analyses showed a relatively high F-value in the cluster of A. okamotoanum, suggesting a strong episode of genetic drift during colonization and speciation. There was no clear evidence of a bottleneck based on allelic frequency distribution and excess of observed heterozygotes, but the M-ratio indicated a historical bottleneck in several populations of A. okamotoanum. No geographical genetic structure within the island was found, and the genetic variation among populations of A. okamotoanum was quite low.
We hypothesized that genetic consequences of oceanic-endemic plants derived via anagenesis would be quite different from those derived via cladogenesis. Populations of A. okamotoanum form a cluster and are clearly differentiated from A. mono, which suggests a single origin for the anagenetically derived island endemic. No pattern of geographical differentiation of populations occurs in A. okamotoanum, which supports the concept of initial founder populations diverging through time by accumulation of mutations in a relatively uniform environment without further specific differentiation.
Acer okamotoanum; Acer mono; adaptive radiation; anagenesis; cladogenesis; microsatellites; oceanic island; phyletic speciation; population genetics; Ullung Island
Background and Aims
Grevillea rhizomatosa is a spreading shrub which exhibits multiple breeding strategies within a narrow area in the fire-prone heathlands of eastern Australia. Reproductive strategies include self-compatibility, self-incompatibility and clonality (with and without sterility). The close proximity of contrasting breeding systems provides an opportunity to explore the evolution of sterility and to compare and contrast the origins of genotypic diversity (recombinant or somatic) against degrees of sexual expression.
ISSR markers for 120 band positions (putative loci) were used to compare genetic diversity among five populations at a macro-scale of 5 m between samples (n = 244 shrubs), and at a micro-scale of nearest neighbours for all plants in five 25-m2 quadrats with contrasting fertilities (n = 162 shrubs). Nearest-neighbour sampling included several clusters of connected ramets. Matrix incompatibility (MIC) analyses were used to evaluate the relative contribution of recombination and somatic mutation to genotype diversity.
High levels of genotypic diversity were found in all populations regardless of fertilities (fertile populations, G/N ≥ 0·94; sterile populations, G/N ≥ 0·97) and most sterile populations had a unique genetic profile. Somatic mutations were detected along connected ramets in ten out of 42 ramet clusters. MIC analyses showed that somatic mutations have contributed to diversity in all populations and particularly so in sterile populations.
Somatic mutations contribute significantly to gene diversity in sterile populations of Grevillea rhizomatosa, the accumulation of which is the likely cause of male and female sterility. High levels of genetic diversity therefore may not always be synonymous with sexual fitness and genetic health. We hypothesize that frequent fires drive selection for clonal reproduction, at the cost of flowering such that sexual functions are not maintained through selection, and the build-up of somatic mutations in meristems results in high genotype diversity at the cost of pollen and ovule fertilities.
Clone diversity; ISSR; matrix incompatibility; multiple breeding strategies; sterility; Grevillea rhizomatosa; somatic mutations
• Background and Aims Mixed reproductive strategies may have evolved as a response of plants to cope with environmental variation. One example of a mixed reproductive strategy is dimorphic cleistogamy, where a single plant produces closed, obligately self-pollinated (CL) flowers and open, potentially outcrossed (CH) flowers. Frequently, optimal environmental conditions favour production of more costly CH structures whilst economical and reliable CL structures are produced under less favourable conditions. In this study we explore (1) the effect of light and water on the reproductive phenology and (2) the effect of pollen supplementation on resource allocation to seeds in the cleistogamous weed Ruellia nudiflora.
• Methods Split-plot field experiments were carried out to assess the effect of shade (two levels: ambient light vs. a reduction of 50 %) and watering (two levels: non-watered vs. watered) on the onset, end and duration of the production of three reproductive structures: CH flowers, CH fruit and CL fruit. We also looked at the effect of these environmental factors on biomass allocation to seeds (seed weight) from obligately self-pollinated flowers (CL), open-pollinated CH flowers and pollen-supplemented CH flowers.
• Key Results CH structures were produced for a briefer period and ended earlier under shaded conditions. These conditions also resulted in an earlier production of CL fruit. Shaded conditions also produced greater biomass allocation to CH seeds receiving extra pollen.
• Conclusions Sub-optimal (shaded) conditions resulted in a briefer production period of CH structures whilst these same conditions resulted in an earlier production of CL structures. However, under sub-optimal conditions, plants also allocated more resources to seeds sired from CH flowers receiving large pollen loads. Earlier production of reproductive structures and relatively larger seed might improve subsequent success of CL and pollen-supplemented CH seeds, respectively.
Cleistogamy; invasive plants; phenology; pollen supplementation; resource allocation; Ruellia nudiflora
Background and Aims
Studies examining patterns and processes of speciation in South America are fewer than in North America and Europe. One of the least well documented processes has been progenitor–derivative speciation. A particularly instructive example occurs in the southern Andes in the genus Pozoa (Apiaceae, Azorelloideae), which consists of only two diploid outcrossing species, the widespread P. coriacea and the geographically and ecologically restricted P. volcanica. This paper tests the hypothesis that the latter species originated from the former through local geographical and ecological isolation by progenitor–derivative speciation.
DNA sequences were analysed from Pozoa and the related South American genera Asteriscium, Eremocharis and Gymnophyton from non-coding regions of the plastid genome, ndhF-rpl32 and rpl32-trnL, plus incorporation of previously reported rpl16 intron and trnD-trnT intergenic spacer sequences. Amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) data from 105 individuals in 21 populations throughout the entire range of distribution of the genus were used for estimation of genetic diversity, divergence and SplitsTree network analysis. Ecological factors, including habitat and associated species, were also examined.
Pozoa coriacea is more similar genetically to the outgroup genera, Asteriscium and Eremocharis, than is P. volcanica. At the population level, only P. volcanica is monophyletic, whereas P. coriacea is paraphyletic. Analyses of genetic differentiation among populations and genetic divergence and diversity of the species show highest values in P. coriacea and clear reductions in P. volcanica. Pozoa coriacea occurs in several types of high elevation habitats, whereas P. volcanica is found only in newly formed open volcanic ash zones.
All facts support that Pozoa represents a good example of progenitor–derivative speciation in the Andes of southern South America.
AFLP; Andes mountains; Apiaceae; DNA sequencing; genetic diversity; geographical origin; Pozoa coriacea; P. volcanica; speciation
Background and Aims
There is increasing evidence that suppressed bud burst and thus epicormic shoot emergence (sprouting) are controlled by water–carbohydrate supplies to entire trees and buds. This direct evidence is still lacking for oak. In other respects, recent studies focused on sessile oak, Quercus petraea, have confirmed the important constraints of sprouting by epicormic ontogeny. The main objective of this paper was thus to provide provisional confirmation of the water–carbohydrate control and direct evidence of the ontogenic constraints by bringing together results already published in separate studies on water status and distribution of carbohydrates, and on accompanying vegetation and epicormics, which also quantify epicormic ontogeny.
This paper analyses results gained from a sessile oak experiment in which part of the site was free from fairly tall, dense accompanying vegetation. This experiment was initially focused on stand water status and more recently on the carbohydrate distribution of dominant trees. External observations of the epicormic composition and internal observations with X-ray computer tomography were undertaken on 60 and six trees, respectively.
Sprouting was more intense in the part of the stand free from accompanying vegetation and on upper trunk segments. A clear effect of epicormic ontogeny was demonstrated as well: the more epicormics a trunk segment bears, the more chances it had to bear sprouts.
These results indirectly infer water–carbohydrate control and show direct evidence of constraints by epicormic ontogeny. These results have far-reaching consequences related to the quantification of all functions fulfilled by any type of epicormic structure in any part of the tree.
Sessile oak; Quercus petraea; trunk sprouting; X-ray tomography; bud physiology
Background and Aims
Winter-flowering plants outside the tropics may experience a shortage of pollinator service, given that insect activity is largely limited by low temperature. Birds can be alternative pollinators for these plants, but experimental evidence for the pollination role of birds in winter-flowering plants is scarce.
Pollinator visitation to the loquat, Eriobotrya japonica (Rosaceae), was observed across the flowering season from November to January for two years in central China. Self- and cross-hand pollination was conducted in the field to investigate self-compatibility and pollen limitation. In addition, inflorescences were covered by bird cages and nylon mesh nets to exclude birds and all animal pollinators, respectively, to investigate the pollination role of birds in seed production.
Self-fertilization in the loquat yielded few seeds. In early winter insect visit frequency was relatively higher, while in late winter insect pollinators were absent and two passerine birds (Pycnonotus sinensis and Zosterops japonicus) became the major floral visitors. However, seed-set of open-pollinated flowers did not differ between early and late winter. Exclusion of bird visitation greatly reduced seed-set, indicating that passerine birds were important pollinators for the loquat in late winter. The whitish perigynous flowers reward passerines with relatively large volumes of dilute nectar. Our observation on the loquat and other Rosaceae species suggested that perigyny might be related to bird pollination but the association needs further study.
These findings suggest that floral traits and phenology would be favoured to attract bird pollinators in cold weather, in which insect activity is limited.
Winter flowering; bird pollination; Pycnonotus sinensis; generalist pollination system; perigyny; self-incompatibility; ornithophily
Background and Aims
Diverse leaf forms in nature can be categorized into two groups: simple and compound. A simple leaf has a single blade unit, whilst a compound leaf is dissected into leaflets. For both simple and compound leaves, a MYB domain transcription factor PHANTASTICA (PHAN) plays an important role in establishing the adaxial domain in the leaf. Absence of PHAN in arabidopsis and antirrhinum leaves supresses blade development, and in tomato suppresses leaflet development. However, in the rachis and petiole regions of tomato leaves where PHAN and the adaxial domain coexist, it has been unclear why leaf blade and leaflets are not formed. We hypothesized that PHAN regulates the medio-lateral extent of the adaxial domain, thereby determining compound leaf architecture.
To test this hypothesis, we generated and analysed transgenic tomato plants expressing tomato PHAN (SlPHAN) under the Cauliflower mosaic virus (CaMV) 35S promoter in both sense and antisense orientations, and tobacco plants that over-express tomato SlPHAN.
Modulations in SlPHAN resulted in a variety of leaf morphologies such as simple, ternate and compound in either a peltate or non-peltate arrangement. Measurements of the extent of the adaxial domain along the wild-type tomato leaf axis showed that the adaxial domain is narrowed in the rachis and petiole in comparison with regions where laminar tissue arises. In antiSlPHAN transgenic leaves, no blade or leaflet was formed where the adaxial domain was medio-laterally narrowed, and KNOX gene expression was correlatively upregulated. CaMV35S::SlPHAN expression led to widening of the adaxial domain and ectopic blade outgrowth in the rachis of tomato and in the petiole of tobacco. Taken together, these results suggest that SlPHAN plays a role in medio-lateral extension of the adaxial domain and contributes to final leaf morphology in tomato.
This study provides a novel insight into leaf architecture in tomato and highlights how changes in the expression domain of a master regulator gene such as SlPHAN can be translated into diverse final leaf morphologies.
PHANTASTICA; KNOX genes; compound leaf; simple leaf; homology; tomato; Solanum lycopersicum; tobacco; Nicotiana tabacum; leaf evolution
Background and Aims
Myxospermy is a term which describes the ability of a seed to produce mucilage upon hydration. The mucilage is mainly comprised of plant cell-wall polysaccharides which are deposited during development of those cells that comprise the seed coat (testa). Myxospermy is more prevalent among those plant species adapted to surviving on arid sandy soils, though its significance in determining the ecological fitness of plants is unclear. In this study, the first mathematical model of myxospermous seed mucilage expansion is presented based on seeds of the model plant species Capsella bursa-pastoris (shepherd's purse).
The structures underpinning the expansion process were described using light, electron and time-lapse confocal micrographs. The data and experimental observations were used to create a mathematical model of myxospermous seed mucilage expansion based on diffusion equations.
The mucilage expansion was rapid, taking 5 s, during which the cell mucilage volume increased 75-fold. At the level of the seed, this represented a 6-fold increase in seed volume and a 2·5-fold increase in seed surface area. These increases were shown to be a function of water uptake (16 g water g−1 mucilage dry weight), and relaxation of the polymers which comprised the mucilage. In addition, the osmotic pressure of the seed mucilage, estimated by assessing the mucilage expansion of seeds hydrated in solutions of varying osmotic pressure, was –0·54 MPa (equivalent to 0·11 m or 6·6 g L−1 NaCl).
The results showed that the mucilage may be characterized as hydrogel and seed-mucilage expansion may be modelled using the diffusion equation described. The potential of myxospermous seeds to affect the ecological services provided by soil is discussed briefly.
Capsella bursa-pastoris; shepherd's purse; myxospermy; seed mucilage; mathematical model
Background and Aims
Fine root decomposition is an important determinant of nutrient and carbon cycling in grasslands; however, little is known about the factors controlling root decomposition among species. Our aim was to investigate whether interspecific variation in the potential decomposition rate of fine roots could be accounted for by root chemical and morphological traits, life history and taxonomic affiliation. We also investigated the co-ordinated variation in root and leaf traits and potential decomposition rates.
We analysed potential decomposition rates and the chemical and morphological traits of fine roots on 18 Mediterranean herbaceous species grown in controlled conditions. The results were compared with those obtained for leaves in a previous study conducted on similar species.
Differences in the potential decomposition rates of fine roots between species were accounted for by root chemical composition, but not by morphological traits. The root potential decomposition rate varied with taxonomy, but not with life history. Poaceae, with high cellulose concentration and low concentrations of soluble compounds and phosphorus, decomposed more slowly than Asteraceae and Fabaceae. Patterns of root traits, including decomposition rate, mirrored those of leaf traits, resulting in a similar species clustering.
The highly co-ordinated variation of roots and leaves in terms of traits and potential decomposition rate suggests that changes in the functional composition of communities in response to anthropogenic changes will strongly affect biogeochemical cycles at the ecosystem level.
Above-ground–below-ground interaction; chemical composition; interspecific variation; leaf decomposition; life history; Mediterranean species; morphology; plant functional traits; taxonomic families; root decomposition
Background and Aims
Archipelagos are unique systems for studying evolutionary processes promoting diversification and speciation. The islands of the Mediterranean basin are major areas of plant richness, including a high proportion of narrow endemics. Many endemic plants are currently found in rocky habitats, showing varying patterns of habitat occupancy at different spatial scales throughout their range. The aim of the present study was to understand the impact of varying patterns of population distribution on genetic diversity and structure to shed light on demographic and evolutionary processes leading to population diversification in Crepis triasii, an endemic plant from the eastern Balearic Islands.
Using allozyme and chloroplast markers, we related patterns of genetic structure and diversity to those of habitat occupancy at a regional (between islands and among populations within islands) and landscape (population size and connectivity) scale.
Genetic diversity was highly structured both at the regional and at the landscape level, and was positively correlated with population connectivity in the landscape. Populations located in small isolated mountains and coastal areas, with restricted patterns of regional occupancy, were genetically less diverse and much more differentiated. In addition, more isolated populations had stronger fine-scale genetic structure than well-connected ones. Changes in habitat availability and quality arising from marine transgressions during the Quaternary, as well as progressive fragmentation associated with the aridification of the climate since the last glaciation, are the most plausible factors leading to the observed patterns of genetic diversity and structure.
Our results emphasize the importance of gene flow in preventing genetic erosion and maintaining the evolutionary potential of populations. They also agree with recent studies highlighting the importance of restricted gene flow and genetic drift as drivers of plant evolution in Mediterranean continental islands.
Allozymes; Balearic flora; chloroplast microsatellites; continental islands; Crepis triasii; fragmentation; genetic diversity; genetic drift; Quaternary; spatially structured populations; SGS
Background and Aims
The low-temperature range limit of tree species may be determined by their ability to produce and disperse viable seeds. Biological processes such as flowering, pollen transfer, pollen tube growth, fertilization, embryogenesis and seed maturation are expected to be affected by cold temperatures. The aim of this study was to assess the quality of seeds of nine broad-leaved tree species close to their elevational limit.
We studied nine, mostly widely distributed, European broad-leaved tree species in the genera Acer, Fagus, Fraxinus, Ilex, Laburnum, Quercus, Sorbus and Tilia. For each species, seeds were collected from stands close to optimal growth conditions (low elevation) and from marginal stands (highest elevation), replicated in two regions in the Swiss Alps. Measurements included seed weight, seed size, storage tissue quality, seed viability and germination success.
All species examined produced a lot of viable seeds at their current high-elevation range limit during a summer ranked ‘normal’ by long-term temperature records. Low- and high-elevation seed sources showed hardly any trait differences. The concentration of non-structural carbohydrates tended to be higher at high elevation. Additionally, in one species, Sorbus aucuparia, all measured traits showed significantly higher seed quality in high-elevation seed sources.
For the broad-leaved tree taxa studied, the results are not in agreement with the hypothesis of reduced quality of seeds in trees at their high-elevation range limits. Under the current climatic conditions, seed quality does not constitute a serious constraint in the reproduction of these broad-leaved tree species at their high-elevation limit.
Rosaceae; Fagaceae; Aceraceae; Oleaceae; Tiliaceae; Aquifoliaceae; Fabaceae; seed morphology; elevation; germination; carbohydrates; Alps