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Holoparasitic Rafflesiaceae possess the most reduced endophytes and yet give rise to the world's largest flowers


Nikolov, Lachezar A; Tomlinson, P B; Manickam, Sugumaran; Endress, Peter K; Kramer, Eelena M; Davis, Charles C (2014). Holoparasitic Rafflesiaceae possess the most reduced endophytes and yet give rise to the world's largest flowers. Annals of Botany, 114(2):233-242.

Abstract

Background and Aims
Species in the holoparasitic plant family Rafflesiaceae exhibit one of the most highly modified vegetative bodies in flowering plants. Apart from the flower shoot and associated bracts, the parasite is a mycelium-like endophyte living inside their grapevine hosts. This study provides a comprehensive treatment of the endophytic vegetative body for all three genera of Rafflesiaceae (Rafflesia, Rhizanthes and Sapria), and reports on the cytology and development of the endophyte, including its structural connection to the host, shedding light on the poorly understood nature of this symbiosis.
Methods
Serial sectioning and staining with non-specific dyes, periodic–Schiff's reagent and aniline blue were employed in order to characterize the structure of the endophyte across a phylogenetically diverse sampling.
Key Results
A previously identified difference in the nuclear size between Rafflesiaceae endophytes and their hosts was used to investigate the morphology and development of the endophytic body. The endophytes generally comprise uniseriate filaments oriented radially within the host root. The emergence of the parasite from the host during floral development is arrested in some cases by an apparent host response, but otherwise vegetative growth does not appear to elicit suppression by the host.
Conclusions
Rafflesiaceae produce greatly reduced and modified vegetative bodies even when compared with the other holoparasitic angiosperms once grouped with Rafflesiaceae, which possess some vegetative differentiation. Based on previous studies of seeds together with these findings, it is concluded that the endophyte probably develops directly from a proembryo, and not from an embryo proper. Similarly, the flowering shoot arises directly from the undifferentiated endophyte. These filaments produce a protocorm in which a shoot apex originates endogenously by formation of a secondary morphological surface. This degree of modification to the vegetative body is exceptional within angiosperms and warrants additional investigation. Furthermore, the study highlights a mechanical isolation mechanism by which the host may defend itself from the parasite.

Abstract

Background and Aims
Species in the holoparasitic plant family Rafflesiaceae exhibit one of the most highly modified vegetative bodies in flowering plants. Apart from the flower shoot and associated bracts, the parasite is a mycelium-like endophyte living inside their grapevine hosts. This study provides a comprehensive treatment of the endophytic vegetative body for all three genera of Rafflesiaceae (Rafflesia, Rhizanthes and Sapria), and reports on the cytology and development of the endophyte, including its structural connection to the host, shedding light on the poorly understood nature of this symbiosis.
Methods
Serial sectioning and staining with non-specific dyes, periodic–Schiff's reagent and aniline blue were employed in order to characterize the structure of the endophyte across a phylogenetically diverse sampling.
Key Results
A previously identified difference in the nuclear size between Rafflesiaceae endophytes and their hosts was used to investigate the morphology and development of the endophytic body. The endophytes generally comprise uniseriate filaments oriented radially within the host root. The emergence of the parasite from the host during floral development is arrested in some cases by an apparent host response, but otherwise vegetative growth does not appear to elicit suppression by the host.
Conclusions
Rafflesiaceae produce greatly reduced and modified vegetative bodies even when compared with the other holoparasitic angiosperms once grouped with Rafflesiaceae, which possess some vegetative differentiation. Based on previous studies of seeds together with these findings, it is concluded that the endophyte probably develops directly from a proembryo, and not from an embryo proper. Similarly, the flowering shoot arises directly from the undifferentiated endophyte. These filaments produce a protocorm in which a shoot apex originates endogenously by formation of a secondary morphological surface. This degree of modification to the vegetative body is exceptional within angiosperms and warrants additional investigation. Furthermore, the study highlights a mechanical isolation mechanism by which the host may defend itself from the parasite.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Department of Systematic and Evolutionary Botany
Dewey Decimal Classification:580 Plants (Botany)
Language:English
Date:2014
Deposited On:29 Jul 2014 10:49
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 17:59
Publisher:Oxford University Press
ISSN:0305-7364
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1093/aob/mcu114

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