Journal Article

Spikelet structure and development in Cyperoideae (Cyperaceae): a monopodial general model based on ontogenetic evidence

Alexander Vrijdaghs, Marc Reynders, Isabel Larridon, A. Muthama Muasya, Erik Smets and Paul Goetghebeur

in Annals of Botany

Published on behalf of The Annals of Botany Company

Volume 105, issue 4, pages 555-571
Published in print April 2010 | ISSN: 0305-7364
Published online March 2010 | e-ISSN: 1095-8290 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/aob/mcq010
Spikelet structure and development in Cyperoideae (Cyperaceae): a monopodial general model based on ontogenetic evidence

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  • Ecology and Conservation
  • Evolutionary Biology
  • Plant Sciences and Forestry

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Background and Aims

In Cyperoideae, one of the two subfamilies in Cyperaceae, unresolved homology questions about spikelets remained. This was particularly the case in taxa with distichously organized spikelets and in Cariceae, a tribe with complex compound inflorescences comprising male (co)florescences and deciduous female single-flowered lateral spikelets. Using ontogenetic techniques, a wide range of taxa were investigated, including some controversial ones, in order to find morphological arguments to understand the nature of the spikelet in Cyperoideae. This paper presents a review of both new ontogenetic data and current knowledge, discussing a cyperoid, general, monopodial spikelet model.

Methods

Scanning electron microscopy and light microscopy were used to examine spikelets of 106 species from 33 cyperoid genera.

Results

Ontogenetic data presented allow a consistent cyperoid spikelet model to be defined. Scanning and light microscopic images in controversial taxa such as Schoenus nigricans, Cariceae and Cypereae are interpreted accordingly.

Conclusions

Spikelets in all species studied consist of an indeterminate rachilla, and one to many spirally to distichously arranged glumes, each subtending a flower or empty. Lateral spikelets are subtended by a bract and have a spikelet prophyll. In distichously organized spikelets, combined concaulescence of the flowers and epicaulescence (a newly defined metatopic displacement) of the glumes has caused interpretational controversy in the past. In Cariceae, the male (co)florescences are terminal spikelets. Female single-flowered spikelets are positioned proximally on the rachis. To explain both this and the secondary spikelets in some Cypereae, the existence of an ontogenetic switch determining the development of a primordium into flower, or lateral axis is postulated.

Journal Article.  8376 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Ecology and Conservation ; Evolutionary Biology ; Plant Sciences and Forestry

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