Angiosperm flowers reached their highest morphological diversity early in their evolutionary history

Author(s)
Andrea M. López-Martínez, Susana Magallón, Anna Maria Louise von Balthazar-Schönenberger, Jürg Schönenberger, Hervé Sauquet, Marion Chartier
Abstract

Flowers are the complex and highly diverse reproductive structures of angiosperms. Because of their role in sexual reproduction, the evolution of flowers is tightly linked to angiosperm speciation and diversification. Accordingly, the quantification of floral morphological diversity (disparity) among angiosperm subgroups and through time may give important insights into the evolutionary history of angiosperms as a whole. Based on a comprehensive dataset focusing on 30 characters describing floral structure across angiosperms, we used 1201 extant and 121 fossil flowers to measure floral disparity and explore patterns of floral evolution through time and across lineages. We found that angiosperms reached their highest floral disparity in the Early Cretaceous. However, decreasing disparity toward the present likely has not precluded the innovation of other complex traits at other morphological levels, which likely played a key role in the outstanding angiosperm species richness. Angiosperms occupy specific regions of the theoretical morphospace, indicating that only a portion of the possible floral trait combinations is observed in nature. The ANA grade, the magnoliids, and the early-eudicot grade occupy large areas of the morphospace (higher disparity), whereas nested groups occupy narrower regions (lower disparity).

Organisation(s)
Department of Botany and Biodiversity Research
External organisation(s)
Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, University of New South Wales, Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust Sydney
Journal
New Phytologist
Volume
241
Pages
1348-1360
No. of pages
13
ISSN
0028-646X
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1111/nph.19389
Publication date
11-2023
Peer reviewed
Yes
Austrian Fields of Science 2012
106008 Botany, 106012 Evolutionary research, 106042 Systematic botany
Keywords
ASJC Scopus subject areas
Physiology, Plant Science
Portal url
https://ucrisportal.univie.ac.at/en/publications/angiosperm-flowers-reached-their-highest-morphological-diversity-early-in-their-evolutionary-history(3377000a-7147-4f0f-8826-00d83d6d13f6).html