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Am J Bot. 2009 Jan;96(1):110-28. doi: 10.3732/ajb.0800182.

Floral variation and floral genetics in basal angiosperms.

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  • 1Florida Museum of Natural History, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida 32611 USA.


Recent advances in phylogeny reconstruction and floral genetics set the stage for new investigations of the origin and diversification of the flower. We review the current state of angiosperm phylogeny, with an emphasis on basal lineages. With the surprising inclusion of Hydatellaceae with Nymphaeales, recent studies support the topology of Amborella sister to all other extant angiosperms, with Nymphaeales and then Austrobaileyales as subsequent sisters to all remaining angiosperms. Notable modifications from most recent analyses are the sister relationships of Chloranthaceae with the magnoliids and of Ceratophyllaceae with eudicots. We review "trends" in floral morphology and contrast historical, intuitive interpretations with explicit character-state reconstructions using molecular-based trees, focusing on (1) the size, number, and organization of floral organs; (2) the evolution of the perianth; (3) floral symmetry; and (4) floral synorganization. We provide summaries of those genes known to affect floral features that contribute to much of floral diversity. Although most floral genes have not been investigated outside of a few model systems, sufficient information is emerging to identify candidate genes for testing specific hypotheses in nonmodel plants. We conclude with a set of evo-devo case studies in which floral genetics have been linked to variation in floral morphology.

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