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Abstract Detail

Evolution, Development, and BSA Genetics of Floral Display - Form, Size, and Arrangement

Nikolov, Lachezar Atanasov [1], Davis, Charles C. [2].

The big, the bad, and the beautiful: evolution and development of the world's largest flowers (Rafflesiaceae).

Rafflesiaceae, crowned “the greatest prodigy of the vegetable kingdom,” produce the largest flowers in the world. They are also holoparasites residing inside their vine hosts, and emerge only during flowering. The floral gigantism and obligate parasitism of Rafflesiaceae have rendered their structure unrecognizable to most plant biologists. The vegetative body is composed of highly reduced strands of cells embedded in host tissue, and does not differentiate into leaves, stems, or roots. The flowers look and smell like decaying animal flesh and exhibit numerous features unknown in the vast majority of flowering plants. This unusual combination of characters has obscured the phylogenetic affinities and development of Rafflesiaceae since their discovery two centuries ago. We provide the first broad and integrated picture of the vegetative and reproductive morphology of Rafflesiaceae. Our talk will describe their diminutive vegetative body, which lacks cell differentiation. Next, we will demonstrate that shoot apex and carpel formation are facilitated by an extraordinary pattern of cell separation resulting in a secondary morphological surface, which gives rise to floral organs and ovules, respectively. Finally, for the first time, we clarify the identity of the diverse floral organs in Rafflesia, Rhizanthes, and Sapria. These findings collectively provide key insights into how these unusual plants are constructed, and offer clues on their evolution from tiny flowered ancestors to floral giants.

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1 - Max Planck Institute Of Plant Breeding Research, Carl-von-Linné-Weg 10, Koeln, N/A, 50829, Germany
2 - Harvard University Herbaria, 22 Divinity Ave, Cambridge, MA, 02138

Reproductive morphology
gene expression

Presentation Type: Symposium Presentation
Session: SY05, Evolution, Development, and Genetics of Floral Display - Form, Size, and Arrangement
Location: Chatham Ballroom - B/Savannah International Trade and Convention Center
Date: Tuesday, August 2nd, 2016
Time: 8:15 AM
Number: SY05002
Abstract ID:322
Candidate for Awards:None

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