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Am J Bot. 2006 May;93(5):682-92. doi: 10.3732/ajb.93.5.682.

Comparative anatomy of root meristem and root cap in some species of Podostemaceae and the evolution of root dorsiventrality.

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Department of Botany, National Science Museum, Amakubo, Tsukuba 305-0005, Japan;


In the unusual aquatic Podostemaceae, the root is the leading organ of the plant body and is variously compressed and submerged as it adheres to rock surfaces in rapid water. In an anatomical comparison of the root apical meristems and root caps of 33 species that represent the major lineages of the family, the dorsiventrality of root meristems varied and was classified into four patterns: (1) The root cap is produced outward from a nearly radially symmetrical meristem. (2) The meristem and root cap are markedly dorsiventral; the outermost cells of the hood-shaped cap are acroscopic derivatives from bifacial initials on the ventral side, while the pattern on the dorsal side is similar to pattern 1. (3) Bifacial initials are on both the dorsal and ventral sides. (4) No root cap is present. An evolutionary polarity may be evident from pattern 1 to 2 and then to 3. Pattern 2 arose in the early evolution of the subfamily Podostemoideae and subsequently, pattern 3 arose in species with crustose roots, while the least specialized pattern 1 is retained in Tristichoideae and Weddellinoideae. Pattern 4 characterized by caplessness may have appeared recurrently in Tristichoideae and Podostemoideae. These evolutionary changes in the meristem preceded the specialization of external root morphologies.

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