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Plant Biol (Stuttg). 2006 Jan;8(1):112-9.

Variability in fruit and seed morphology among and within populations of Plathymenia (Leguminosae-Mimosoideae) in areas of the Cerrado, the Atlantic forest, and transitional sites.

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Departamento de Biologia Geral, Instituto de Ciências Biológicas, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Av. Antônio Carlos 6627, 31270-010, Belo Horizonte, MG, Brasil.


Plathymenia reticulata is a tree species that occurs in two different Brazilian biomes, the Cerrado (a savannah environment), and the Atlantic Forest. In the present study, we evaluated morphological variation within and among five populations located in these vegetation types and in transitional sites in order to test the hypothesis that habitat selective pressures, being different in the Cerrado and the Atlantic Forest, would cause adaptive differences in morphological traits in individuals occurring under these different circumstances. Thirteen morphological traits of fruits, seeds, and of the membranous endocarp were obtained from 30 fruits and 20 seeds from each of nine to 10 individuals per population. Significant variation was found for all traits while comparing individuals within populations, and most traits varied significantly among populations as well. Some traits differed significantly between forest and Cerrado populations, while transition sites showed intermediate patterns and higher within-population variation. Contrary to our hypothesis, variation in seed size and mass among populations from different habitats was not significant. However, as predicted, the membranous endocarp was shorter for the seeds from Cerrado populations than from the Atlantic Forest. These data suggest the existence of P. reticulata ecotypes from Cerrado and Atlantic Forest; the relevance to Plathymenia evolution and to its wide ecological distribution is discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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