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Evolution of unusual morphologies in Lentibulariaceae (bladderworts and allies) and Podostemaceae (river-weeds): a pictorial report at the interface of developmental biology and morphological diversification

, : Evolution of unusual morphologies in Lentibulariaceae (bladderworts and allies) and Podostemaceae (river-weeds): a pictorial report at the interface of developmental biology and morphological diversification. Annals of Botany 117(5): 811-832

Various groups of flowering plants reveal profound ('saltational') changes of their bauplans (architectural rules) as compared with related taxa. These plants are known as morphological misfits that appear as rather large morphological deviations from the norm. Some of them emerged as morphological key innovations (perhaps 'hopeful monsters') that gave rise to new evolutionary lines of organisms, based on (major) genetic changes. This pictorial report places emphasis on released bauplans as typical for bladderworts (Utricularia, approx. 230 secies, Lentibulariaceae) and river-weeds (Podostemaceae, three subfamilies, approx. 54 genera, approx. 310 species). Bladderworts (Utricularia) are carnivorous, possessing sucking traps. They live as submerged aquatics (except for their flowers), as humid terrestrials or as epiphytes. Most Podostemaceae are restricted to rocks in tropical river-rapids and waterfalls. They survive as submerged haptophytes in these extreme habitats during the rainy season, emerging with their flowers afterwards. The recent scientific progress in developmental biology and evolutionary history of both Lentibulariaceae and Podostemaceae is summarized. Lentibulariaceae and Podostemaceae follow structural rules that are different from but related to those of more typical flowering plants. The roots, stems and leaves - as still distinguishable in related flowering plants - are blurred ('fuzzy'). However, both families have stable floral bauplans. The developmental switches to unusual vegetative morphologies facilitated rather than prevented the evolution of species diversity in both families. The lack of one-to-one correspondence between structural categories and gene expression may have arisen from the re-use of existing genetic resources in novel contexts. Understanding what developmental patterns are followed in Lentibulariaceae and Podostemaceae is a necessary prerequisite to discover the genetic alterations that led to the evolution of these atypical plants. Future molecular genetic work on morphological misfits such as bladderworts and river-weeds will provide insight into developmental and evolutionary aspects of more typical vascular plants.


PMID: 26589968

DOI: 10.1093/aob/mcv172

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