The Rise and Evolution of the Cambial Variant in Bignonieae (Bignoniaceae)

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Evolution and Development


Cambial variants represent a form of secondary growth that creates great stem anatomical diversity in lianas. Despite the importance of cambial variants, nothing is known about the developmental mechanisms that may have led to the current diversity seen in these stems. Here, a thorough anatomical analysis of all genera along the phylogeny of Bignonieae (Bignoniaceae) was carried out in order to detect when in their ontogeny and phylogeny there were shifts leading to different stem anatomical patterns. We found that all species depart from a common developmental basis, with a continuous, regularly growing cambium. Initial development is then followed by the modification of four equidistant portions of the cambium that reduce the production of xylem and increase the production of phloem, the former with much larger sieve tubes and an extended lifespan. In most species, the formerly continuous cambium becomes disjunct, with cambial portions within phloem wedges and cambial portions between them. Other anatomical modifications such as the formation of multiples of four phloem wedges, multiple-dissected phloem wedges, and included phloem wedges take place thereafter. The fact that each novel trait raised on the ontogenetic trajectory appeared in subsequently more recent ancestors on the phylogeny suggests a recapitulatory history. This recapitulation is, however, caused by the terminal addition of evolutionary novelties rather than a truly heterochronic process. Truly heterochronic processes were only found in shrubby species, which resemble juveniles of their ancestors, as a result of a decelerated phloem formation by the variant cambia. In addition, the modular evolution of phloem and xylem in Bignonieae seems to indicate that stem anatomical modifications in this group occurred at the level of cambial initials. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR].

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