Lichens and their symbionts, seed size and much more – This Week in Annals of Botany

All the latest plant science news this week in Annals of Botany.

Morphology and anatomy of Trebouxia species isolated in axenic culture Photobiont selectivity leads to ecological tolerance and evolutionary divergence in a polymorphic complex of lichenized fungi
The integrity and evolution of lichen symbioses depend on a fine-tuned combination of algal and fungal genotypes. Geographically widespread species complexes of lichenized fungi can occur in habitats with slightly varying ecological conditions, and it remains unclear how this variation correlates with symbiont selectivity patterns in lichens. In an attempt to address this question, more than 300 samples were taken of the globally distributed and ecologically variable lichen-forming species complex Tephromela atra, together with closely allied species, in order to study genetic diversity and the selectivity patterns of their photobionts.


The presence of a below-ground neighbour alters within-plant seed size distribution in Phaseolus vulgaris
Considerable variation in seed size commonly exists within plants, and is believed to be favoured under natural selection. This study aims to examine the extent to which seed size distribution depends on the presence of competing neighbour plants. Below-ground neighbour presence affects within-plant seed size distribution in P. vulgaris. This effect appears to be non-resource-mediated, i.e. to be independent of neighbour-induced effects on resource availability. It implies that, based on current environmental cues, plants can make an anticipatory adjustment of their investment strategy in offspring as an adaptation to the local environment in the future.


Extensive long-distance pollen dispersal and highly outcrossed mating in historically small and disjunct populations of Acacia woodmaniorum (Fabaceae), a rare banded iron formation endemic
Understanding patterns of pollen dispersal and variation in mating systems provides insights into the evolutionary potential of plant species and how historically rare species with small disjunct populations persist over long time frames. This study aims to quantify the role of pollen dispersal and the mating system in maintaining contemporary levels of connectivity and facilitating persistence of small populations of the historically rare Acacia woodmaniorum.


An angiosperm-wide analysis of the gynodioecy-dioecy pathway
About 6 % of an estimated total of 240 000 species of angiosperms are dioecious. The main precursors of this sexual system are thought to be monoecy and gynodioecy. A previous angiosperm-wide study revealed that many dioecious species have evolved through the monoecy pathway; some case studies and a large body of theoretical research also provide evidence in support of the gynodioecy pathway. If plants have evolved through the gynodioecy pathway, gynodioecious and dioecious species should co-occur in the same genera. However, to date, no large-scale analysis has been conducted to determine the prevalence of the gynodioecy pathway in angiosperms. In this study, this gap in knowledge was addressed by performing an angiosperm-wide survey in order to test for co-occurrence as evidence of the gynodioecy pathway.


Arrangement of mixed-linkage glucan and glucuronoarabinoxylan in the cell walls of growing maize roots
Plant cell enlargement is unambiguously coupled to changes in cell wall architecture, and as such various studies have examined the modification of the proportions and structures of glucuronoarabinoxylan and mixed-linkage glucan in the course of cell elongation in grasses. However, there is still no clear understanding of the mutual arrangement of these matrix polymers with cellulose microfibrils and of the modification of this architecture during cell growth. This study aimed to determine the correspondence between the fine structure of grass cell walls and the course of the elongation process in roots of maize.



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