Abstract Detail

Annals of Botany Lecture - Dr. Elena Conti

Conti, Elena [1].

Origin, evolution, and loss of heterostyly: integrating morphological, ecological, and molecular evidence on Darwin’s “very obscure subject”.

One of the most enduring mysteries in evolutionary biology concerns the origin and drivers of angiosperm diversity. A frequently proposed explanation for such diversity is the evolution of different types of flowers and their relationships with pollinators, which enabled new opportunities for reproductive isolation and more efficient outcrossing. Heterostyly is a specialized type of floral morphology consisting in the reciprocal arrangement of sexual organs in different individuals of the same species. It is often linked with a form of heteromorphic self-incompatibility that prevents pollen germination on the stigma of the same flower or floral morph. It occurs in 28 families of flowering plants and is thought to promote outcrossing. Despite having been the subject of intensive research ever since Darwin’s seminal work on primroses (Primula), multiple aspects of the function, evolution, and loss of heterostyly remain obscure. Recently, the advent of new experimental and analytical methods has greatly advanced our knowledge of heterostyly. I will review our cross-disciplinary studies of heterostyly at different hierarchical scales in Primulaceae, the prime model for this floral heteromorphism. The main questions addressed in my talk include: How does heterostyly work? Does variation in sexual organ reciprocity contribute to reproductive isolation? Does heterostyly spur diversification at macroevolutionary scales? What are the evolutionary implications of the loss of heterostyly? What are the genetic and molecular bases of heterostyly? I will conclude with an overview of comparative genomic analyses in our lab aimed at elucidating the assembly and breakdown of the heterostyly supergene in Primulaceae and a summary of current challenges and prospects in the study of this fascinating floral heteromorphism

Related Links:

1 - Department Of Systematic And Evolutionary Botany, Zollikerstrasse 107, Zürich, 8008, Switzerland

Annals of Botany.

Presentation Type: Special Presentations
Abstract ID:264
Candidate for Awards:None

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