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Evolution. 2000 Jun;54(3):847-58.

Ontogenetic differences in heterostylous plants and implications for development from a herkogamous ancestor.

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Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Arizona, Tucson 85721, USA.


Alternative ontogenetic pathways among heterostylous species of Rubiaceae may reflect differences in their evolutionary histories. In this study, measurements were taken at different developmental stages on a series of long-styled (LS) and short-styled (SS) buds of the heterostylous taxa Psychotria chiapensis, P. poeppigiana, and Bouvardia ternifolia (all Rubiaceae). Results indicated that modifications in growth rates of stamens relative to corollas in all three species led to differences in anther heights between LS and SS flowers. Distinct style heights for LS and SS flowers of P. chiapensis and P. poeppigiana originate in the earlier stages of bud development and are maintained as styles elongate at equal rates. This contrasts with B. ternifolia, which has differences in style heights resulting from unequal relative growth rates between floral morphs. The "approach herkogamous" floral morphology, defined by having stigmas positioned above anthers, has been proposed as a potential evolutionary precursor for heterostylous taxa. To examine this hypothesis, floral development of two species with approach herkogamous morphologies, Psychotria pittieri and P. brachiata, was compared to that of the three heterostylous taxa. Differences in the relative rates of style elongation for flowers of approach herkogamous versus heterostylous species predict additional steps in the original model for the evolution of heterostyly from an approach herkogamous ancestor. The diversity of heterostylous ontogenies found within Rubiaceae provides insight into potential evolutionary pathways for this sexual system in other angiosperm families.

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