Comparative Plant and Fungal Biology

Kew, United Kingdom

Comparative Plant and Fungal Biology

Kew, United Kingdom
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Sandel B.,University of Aarhus | Monnet A.-C.,University of Aarhus | Govaerts R.,Comparative Plant and Fungal Biology | Vorontsova M.,Comparative Plant and Fungal Biology
Annals of Botany | Year: 2017

• Background and Aims: Earth's climate is dynamic, with strong glacial-interglacial cycles through the Late Quaternary. These climate changes have had major consequences for the distributions of species through time, and may have produced historical legacies in modern ecological patterns. Unstable regions are expected to contain few endemic species, many species with strong dispersal abilities, and to be susceptible to the establishment of exotic species from relatively stable regions. We test these hypotheses with a global dataset of grass species distributions. • Methods: We described global patterns of endemism, variation in the potential for rapid population spread, and exotic establishment in grasses. We then examined relationships of these response variables to a suite of predictor variables describing the mean, seasonality and spatial pattern of current climate and the temperature change velocity from the Last Glacial Maximum to the present. • Key Results: Grass endemism is strongly concentrated in regions with historically stable climates. It also depends on the spatial pattern of current climate, with many endemic species in areas with regionally unusual climates. There was no association between the proportion of annual species (representing potential population spread rates) and climate change velocity. Rather, the proportion of annual species depended very strongly on current temperature. Among relatively stable regions (<10 m year-1), increasing velocity decreased the proportion of species that were exotic, but this pattern reversed for higher-velocity regions (>10 m year-1). Exotic species were most likely to originate from relatively stable regions with climates similar to those found in their exotic range. • Conclusions: Long-term climate stability has important influences on global endemism patterns, largely confirming previous work from other groups. Less well recognized is its role in generating patterns of exotic species establishment. This result provides an important historical context for the conjecture that climate change in the near future may promote species invasions. © The Author 2016. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Annals of Botany Company. All rights reserved.


Fernandez-Pascual E.,Comparative Plant and Fungal Biology | Fernandez-Pascual E.,University of Oviedo | Perez-Arcoiza A.,University of Oviedo | Alberto Prieto J.,University of Oviedo | Diaz T.E.,University of Oviedo
Annals of Botany | Year: 2017

Background and Aims A phylogenetic comparative analysis of the seed germination niche was conducted in coastal plant communities of western Europe. Two hypotheses were tested, that (1) the germination niche shape (i.e. the preference for a set of germination cues as opposed to another) would differ between beaches and cliffs to prevent seedling emergence in the less favourable season (winter and summer, respectively); and (2) the germination niche breadth (i.e. the amplitude of germination cues) would be narrower in the seawards communities, where environmental filtering is stronger. Methods Seeds of 30 specialist species of coastal plant communities were collected in natural populations of northern Spain. Their germination was measured in six laboratory treatments based on field temperatures. Germination niche shape was estimated as the best germination temperature. Germination niche breadth was calculated using Pielou's evenness index. Differences between plant communities in their germination niche shape and breadth were tested using phylogenetic generalized least squares regression (PGLS). Key Results Germination niche shape differed between communities, being warm-cued in beaches (best germination temperature = 20 °C) and cold-cued in cliffs (14 °C). Germination niche was narrowest in seawards beaches (Pielou's index = 0.89) and broadest in landwards beaches (0.99). Cliffs had an intermediate germination niche breadth (0.95). The relationship between niche and plant community had a positive phylogenetic signal for shape (Pagel's γ=0.64) and a negative one for breadth (Pagel's γ=-1.71). Conclusion Environmental filters shape the germination niche to prevent emergence in the season of highest threat for seedling establishment. The germination niche breadth is narrower in the communities with stronger environmental filters, but only in beaches. This study provides empirical support to a community-level generalization of the hypotheses about the environmental drivers of the germination niche. It highlights the role of germination traits in community assembly. © The Author 2017.


Ernst M.,Copenhagen University | Grace O.M.,Comparative Plant and Fungal Biology | Saslis-Lagoudakis C.H.,Copenhagen University | Nilsson N.,Front End Innovation | And 2 more authors.
Journal of Ethnopharmacology | Year: 2015

Ethnopharmacological relevance The genus Euphorbia (spurges, Euphorbiaceae) is the third largest genus of flowering plants, with almost 2000 species. Its exceptional diversity of growth forms and near-cosmopolitan distribution have attracted human interest since ancient times. For instance in Australia, topical application of latex of Euphorbia peplus L. is used as a home treatment for skin cancer and actinic keratosis. Its use in Australian folk medicine has inspired the release of the drug Picato® (ingenol mebutate), and further fostered interest in natural products and medicinal uses of Euphorbia in recent years. Aim of the study To provide an indicative overview of medicinal uses of the genus Euphorbia driven by the recent interest in biologically active natural products from Euphorbia in drug discovery. We assess documented medicinal knowledge and value of the genus Euphorbia and the taxonomic distribution of this value. Materials and methods We undertook an extensive survey of over 260 multidisciplinary publications on the online repository JSTOR using the search term "Euphorbia medicinal". Results Medicinal uses were identified for >5% of the species in the genus, including descriptions of treatments for a variety of diseases. The most-cited medicinal uses around the world were treatments for digestive system disorders, skin ailments and, especially in the Southern hemisphere, infections. Consensus ratios indicated that the most-valued medicinal uses of Euphorbia species are in the treatment of digestive and respiratory complaints, inflammation and injuries, especially by members of Euphorbia subg. Chamaesyce. Conclusions The present study gives a first indicative overview of Euphorbia species used for health and wellbeing around the world. The exceptional diversity of the genus Euphorbia is not only represented by its growth forms but also by its diverse medicinal uses. Our results highlight the importance of research into medicinal uses of Euphorbia species and their importance as a source of natural products. Furthermore the medicinally highly valuable subgenus Chamaesyce was identified as chemically under-investigated, emphasizing the need for further studies investigating the chemical diversity to which the high medicinal value of Euphorbia subg. Chamaesyce can be attributed. © 2015 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.


PubMed | Comparative Plant and Fungal Biology, São Paulo State University and Federal University of Pernambuco
Type: | Journal: PeerJ | Year: 2016

Background and Aims. A recently described Brazilian species, Lacandonia brasiliana, shares with its longer established putative sister species from Mexico, L. schismatica, inverted floral patterning (carpels surrounding stamens) that is almost unique among angiosperms. We present a detailed ontogenetic study of L. brasiliana for comparison with other members of the tribe Triurideae (Triuridaceae) to explore the possible evolutionary origins of inside-out flowers. Methods. Wild-source populations of L. brasiliana were compared morphologically and ontogenetically with related species of Triurideae, using light and scanning electron microscopy. Key Results. Relatively few morphological differences separate flowers of L. brasiliana and L. schismatica. Both species have tepals with late-developing subapical appendages. In both species, the three central (almost sessile) anthers develop precociously with respect to the carpels; the anthers remain closed, and fertilization is achieved via pollen-tube growth from germinating pollen grains of the same cleistogamous flower. Carpels are initiated on fascicles. Conclusions. The close similarity between the two Lacandonia species makes it unlikely that they arose independently from two separate homeotic transformation events; they could either represent sister species or two populations of a single disjunct species. Our study underlines the problematic generic and species boundaries within Triurideae. We present an evolutionary scenario of character evolution in Triuridaceae. The inside-out Lacandonia flower could have resulted from a stabilized homeotic transformation; this hypothesis is not in conflict with constrasting theories of the origin of the Triuridaceae flower, which coincided with a shift to unisexuality. The unisexual yet highly plastic flowers that are typical of Triuridaceae could have pre-adapted the origin of the extraordinary Lacandonia morphology.


PubMed | University of Aarhus and Comparative Plant and Fungal Biology
Type: | Journal: Annals of botany | Year: 2016

Earths climate is dynamic, with strong glacial-interglacial cycles through the Late Quaternary. These climate changes have had major consequences for the distributions of species through time, and may have produced historical legacies in modern ecological patterns. Unstable regions are expected to contain few endemic species, many species with strong dispersal abilities, and to be susceptible to the establishment of exotic species from relatively stable regions. We test these hypotheses with a global dataset of grass species distributions.We described global patterns of endemism, variation in the potential for rapid population spread, and exotic establishment in grasses. We then examined relationships of these response variables to a suite of predictor variables describing the mean, seasonality and spatial pattern of current climate and the temperature change velocity from the Last Glacial Maximum to the present.Grass endemism is strongly concentrated in regions with historically stable climates. It also depends on the spatial pattern of current climate, with many endemic species in areas with regionally unusual climates. There was no association between the proportion of annual species (representing potential population spread rates) and climate change velocity. Rather, the proportion of annual species depended very strongly on current temperature. Among relatively stable regions (<10myearLong-term climate stability has important influences on global endemism patterns, largely confirming previous work from other groups. Less well recognized is its role in generating patterns of exotic species establishment. This result provides an important historical context for the conjecture that climate change in the near future may promote species invasions.


PubMed | Comparative Plant and Fungal Biology, Masaryk University and University of Oviedo
Type: Comparative Study | Journal: Plant biology (Stuttgart, Germany) | Year: 2016

Seed germination traits in alpine grasslands are poorly understood, despite the sensitivity of these communities to climate change. We hypothesise that germination traits predict species occurrence along the alpine-subalpine elevation gradient. Phylogenetic comparative analyses were performed using fresh seeds of 22 species from alpine and subalpine grasslands (1600-2400m) of the Cantabrian Mountains, Spain (43N, 5W). Laboratory experiments were conducted to characterise germinability, optimum germination temperature and effect of cold and warm stratification on dormancy breaking. Variability in these traits was reduced by phylogenetic principal component analysis (phyl.PCA). Phylogenetic generalised least squares regression (PGLS) was used to fit a model in which species average elevation was predicted from their position on the PCA axes. Most subalpine species germinated in snow-like conditions, whereas most alpine species needed accumulation of warm temperatures. Phylogenetic signal was low. PCA1 ordered species according to overall germinability, whilst PCA2 ordered them according to preference for warm or cold germination. PCA2 significantly predicted species occurrence in the alpine-subalpine gradient, as higher elevation species tended to have warmer germination preferences. Our results show that germination traits in high-mountain grasslands are closely linked to the alpine-subalpine gradient. Alpine species, especially those from stripped and wind-edge communities, prefer warmer germination niches, suggesting that summer emergence prevents frost damage during seedling establishment. In contrast, alpine snowfield and subalpine grassland plants have cold germination niches, indicating that winter emergence may occur under snow to avoid drought stress.


PubMed | Anglia, University of Antananarivo, University of Nottingham, National Museums of Kenya and 6 more.
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Proceedings. Biological sciences | Year: 2016

Grasses, by their high productivity even under very low pCO2, their ability to survive repeated burning and to tolerate long dry seasons, have transformed the terrestrial biomes in the Neogene and Quaternary. The expansion of grasslands at the cost of biodiverse forest biomes in Madagascar is often postulated as a consequence of the Holocene settlement of the island by humans. However, we show that the Malagasy grass flora has many indications of being ancient with a long local evolutionary history, much predating the Holocene arrival of humans. First, the level of endemism in the Madagascar grass flora is well above the global average for large islands. Second, a survey of many of the more diverse areas indicates that there is a very high spatial and ecological turnover in the grass flora, indicating a high degree of niche specialization. We also find some evidence that there are both recently disturbed and natural stable grasslands: phylogenetic community assembly indicates that recently severely disturbed grasslands are phylogenetically clustered, whereas more undisturbed grasslands tend to be phylogenetically more evenly distributed. From this evidence, it is likely that grass communities existed in Madagascar long before human arrival and so were determined by climate, natural grazing and other natural factors. Humans introduced zebu cattle farming and increased fire frequency, and may have triggered an expansion of the grasslands. Grasses probably played the same role in the modification of the Malagasy environments as elsewhere in the tropics.


Fernandez-Pascual E.,Comparative Plant and Fungal Biology | Fernandez-Pascual E.,University of Oviedo
Aquatic Botany | Year: 2016

Mires are continental wetlands of high scientific and conservation interest. Knowing the seed germination traits of mire species is essential for understanding their regeneration ecology and conducting active restoration policies. Here, a comparative study of seed germination traits was performed with 34 plant species from bog and fen communities, including many European indicators of these habitats. Freshly collected seeds were exposed to a laboratory germination experiment designed to characterize their response to (1) cold stratification and (2) simulated field temperatures. Germination strategy groups were interpreted according to these responses, and the relation between these groups and different mire types was discussed. Seeds of all tested species had physiological dormancy. Most of them showed conditional type 2 non-deep physiological dormancy: fresh seeds could germinate only at warm temperature, but attained the ability to germinate at colder temperature as they lost dormancy. Most mire species from bogs, poor fens and base-rich fens followed a warm germination strategy analogous to that of other wetland species. Species from this warm group responded to very warm temperatures which rarely occur in the field, and this was interpreted as a gap-detecting mechanism. In contrast, species from calcareous springs and flushes had a cold germination strategy, which would fit with the cold and stable soils where they occur. Finally, a group of species associated with the pioneer Rhynchosporion vegetation of bare peat areas had very low germination, suggesting an intermediate or deep seed dormancy and a long term seed bank. © 2016 Elsevier B.V.


The African Non-Spiny (ANS) clade contains 14 species of mostly large canopy lianas or scandent shrubs confined to Madagascar (10) and continental Africa (4, with with one species reaching the southern Arabian peninsula). Members of the clade were previously classified in sections Afrosolanum Bitter, Benderianum Bitter, Lemurisolanum Bitter, Macronesiotes Bitter and Quadrangulare Bitter, and were throught to be related to a variety of New World groups. The group is an early-branching lineage of non-spiny solanums and characters shared with other vining New World solanums are homoplastic. The 14 species of the group occupy a wide range of habitats, from wet forests in western Africa to savanna and dry forests of southern Madagascar and dune habitats in South Africa. Many members of the group are highly variable morphologically, and habit can vary between shrub and canopy vine in a single locality. We here review the taxonomic history, morphology, potential relationships and ecology of these species; we provide keys for their identification, descriptions, full synonymy (including designations of lectotypes and neotypes) and nomenclatural notes. Illustrations, distribution maps and preliminary conservation assessments are provided for all species. © Sandra Knapp, Maria S. Vorontsova.


The African Non-Spiny (ANS) clade contains 14 species of mostly large canopy lianas or scandent shrubs confined to Madagascar (10) and continental Africa (4, with with one species reaching the southern Arabian peninsula). Members of the clade were previously classified in sections Afrosolanum Bitter, Benderianum Bitter, Lemurisolanum Bitter, Macronesiotes Bitter and Quadrangulare Bitter, and were throught to be related to a variety of New World groups. The group is an early-branching lineage of non-spiny solanums and characters shared with other vining New World solanums are homoplastic. The 14 species of the group occupy a wide range of habitats, from wet forests in western Africa to savanna and dry forests of southern Madagascar and dune habitats in South Africa. Many members of the group are highly variable morphologically, and habit can vary between shrub and canopy vine in a single locality. We here review the taxonomic history, morphology, potential relationships and ecology of these species; we provide keys for their identification, descriptions, full synonymy (including designations of lectotypes and neotypes) and nomenclatural notes. Illustrations, distribution maps and preliminary conservation assessments are provided for all species.

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