Abstract Detail

Ferns at the extreme: the case of moonworts, grape-ferns and adder’s tongues of the family Ophioglossaceae

Farrar, Donald [1].

Ophioglossales, plants at the extreme for an extremely long time--what can we learn from them? Lessons from Botrychium, the moonwort ferns.

The Ophioglossales, and the Psilotales, are sister to the rest of the ferns. They share simple morphology and endomycorrhizal symbiosis, characteristics of the earliest vascular land plants. Botrychium, the moonwort ferns, serve as examples of what we can learn from the Ophioglossales and similar plants. Botrychium spores, released from aboveground leaves, germinate and produce mature gametophytes belowground in total darkness. Fertilization and sporophyte production also occurs belowground. These permanently belowground sporophytes possess a single stem with roots and a single apical bud from which a single leaf may, or may not, emerge aboveground in a given year, producing a petiole (common stalk) divided into a photosynthetic "trophophore" and a spore-producing "sporophore". Gametophytes and sporophytes receive water, minerals, and organic nutrition through endomycorrhizal sympiosis with fungi of the genus Glomus. This assocition makes possible their indefinite persistence belowground without producing photosynthetic leaves, so long as their fungal symbiont persists. Genetic analysis of all known species of Botrychium reveals that most populations contain little or no allelic variability, suggesting that reliance on symbiotic support may reduce the importance of allelic variability. Presenters in this colloquium will provide deeper analyses of the unusual life cycle of Botrychium, discussing issues of taxonomic resolution of species, cryptic speciation, ecology, conservation management, and the remarkable persistence of these ancient plants in a modern flora.

1 - Iowa State University

belowground biology.

Presentation Type: Colloquium Presentations
Number: C4002
Abstract ID:125
Candidate for Awards:None

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