Evolution of floral morphology and pollination system in Bignonieae (Bignoniaceae)

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American Journal of Botany


The radiation of angiosperms is associated with shifts among pollination modes that are thought to have driven the diversification of floral forms. However, the exact sequence of evolutionary events that led to such great diversity in floral traits is unknown for most plant groups. Here, we characterize the patterns of evolution of individual floral traits and overall floral morphologies in the tribe Bignonieae (Bignoniaceae). We identified 12 discrete traits that are associated with seven floral types previously described for the group and used a penalized likelihood tree of the tribe to reconstruct the ancestral states of those traits at all nodes of the phylogeny of Bignonieae. In addition, evolutionary correlations among traits were conducted using a maximum likelihood approach to test whether the evolution of individual floral traits followed the correlated patterns of evolution expected under the “pollination syndrome” concept. The ancestral Bignonieae flower presented an Anemopaegma-type morphology, which was followed by several parallel shifts in floral morphologies. Those shifts occurred through intermediate stages resulting in mixed floral morphologies as well as directly from the Anemopaegma-type morphology to other floral types. Positive and negative evolutionary correlations among traits fit patterns expected under the pollination syndrome perspective, suggesting that interactions between Bignonieae flowers and pollinators likely played important roles in the diversification of the group as a whole.

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