Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Secrets In A Seed: Clues Into The Evolution Of The First Flowers

Date:
October 28, 2009
Source:
American Journal of Botany
Summary:
Researchers have explored a piece of Darwin's "abominable mystery" -- how flowering plants originated, rapidly diversified, and rose to dominance -- by exploring the microscopic anatomy of seed development in Trithuria, a genus in the plant family Hydatellaceae. This family is thought to be one of the earliest families of angiosperms -- the so-called "basal angiosperms."

Nymphaea lotus.
Credit: Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Approximately 120-130 million years ago, one of the most significant events in the history of the Earth occurred: the first flowering plants, or angiosperms, arose. In the late 1800s, Darwin referred to their development as an "abominable mystery." To this day, scientists are still challenged by this "mystery" of how angiosperms originated, rapidly diversified, and rose to dominance.

Studies of key features of angiosperm evolution, such as the evolution of the flower and development of the endosperm, have contributed to our current understanding of relationships among the early families of flowering plants. Examining the development of seeds and embryos among early angiosperms may help to improve our understanding of how flowering plants evolved from the nonflowering gymnosperms.

A recent study by Dr. Paula Rudall and colleagues explores a piece of this mystery: the microscopic anatomy of seed development in Trithuria, a genus in the plant family Hydatellaceae, thought to be one of the earliest families of angiosperms -- the so-called "basal angiosperms."

Rudall and colleagues' observations of the development of the embryo and endosperm (tissue that surrounds the embryo and provides nutrition) in Trithuria suggest that double fertilization occurs. Double fertilization is a unique feature of flowering plants where one sperm nucleus unites with the egg, producing the embryo, while another sperm nucleus unites with a separate nucleus from the female, producing the endosperm. The endosperm is divided into two regions -- the micropylar and chalazal regions.

In Trithuria, the cells of the micropylar region divide many times to form the multi-celled endosperm. However, the chalazal region forms a single-celled haustorium, a structure that absorbs nutrients and ultimately degenerates to form an empty space in the seed. This situation is broadly similar to that of some waterlilies and some monocots but differs from that of many other early-diverging angiosperms such as Amborella, in which the endosperm is formed from the chalazal region.

One of the current hypotheses is that the endosperm originated as a monstrous proembryo that fails to develop into a plant. Rudall and colleagues' observations support this theory.

"Comparative studies of early endosperm development in extant 'basal' angiosperms (including Trithuria) tend to support this theory," Rudall said, "because there are similarities in early development of embryo and endosperm. In both cases, the first cell division produces two distinct domains that differ in their subsequent development." In the embryo, divisions of the chalazal cell produce most of the embryo. The micropylar cell develops into a stalk that attaches the embryo to the seed coat. In the endosperm of Trithuria, the chalazal haustorium may regulate early endosperm development of the micropylar region, in addition to facilitating transfer of nutrients from the perisperm, maternally derived nutritive tissue, to the embryo.

Rudall and colleagues' findings shed some light on the possible role of the endosperm in early angiosperms. "The endosperm of Trithuria, though limited in size and storage capacity, is relatively persistent," Rudall stated. "Coupled with the well-developed perisperm that occurs in Trithuria, this could indicate that the ancestral role of endosperm was to transfer nutrients from the perisperm to the embryo, rather than as a storage tissue."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Journal of Botany. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Rudall et al. Seed fertilization, development, and germination in Hydatellaceae (Nymphaeales): Implications for endosperm evolution in early angiosperms. American Journal of Botany, 2009; 96 (9): 1581 DOI: 10.3732/ajb.0900033

Cite This Page:

American Journal of Botany. "Secrets In A Seed: Clues Into The Evolution Of The First Flowers." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 October 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090914131910.htm>.
American Journal of Botany. (2009, October 28). Secrets In A Seed: Clues Into The Evolution Of The First Flowers. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090914131910.htm
American Journal of Botany. "Secrets In A Seed: Clues Into The Evolution Of The First Flowers." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090914131910.htm (accessed April 21, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Monday, April 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Breakfast Foods Are Getting Pricier

Breakfast Foods Are Getting Pricier

AP (Apr. 21, 2014) Breakfast is now being served with a side of sticker shock. The cost of morning staples like bacon, coffee and orange juice is on the rise because of global supply problems. (April 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Mich. Boy Unearths 10,000-Year-Old Mastodon Tooth

Mich. Boy Unearths 10,000-Year-Old Mastodon Tooth

Newsy (Apr. 20, 2014) A 9-year-old Michigan boy was exploring a creek when he came across a 10,000-year-old tooth from a prehistoric mastodon. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home

Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home

AP (Apr. 18, 2014) Dairy farmers and ethnic groups in Vermont are both benefiting from a unique collaborative effort that's feeding a growing need for fresh and affordable goat meat. (April 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Man Claims He Found Loch Ness Monster With... Apple Maps?

Man Claims He Found Loch Ness Monster With... Apple Maps?

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) Andy Dixon showed the Daily Mail a screenshot of what he believes to be the mythical beast swimming just below the lake's surface. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins