Paedomorphosis, Secondary Woodiness, and Insular Woodiness in Plants.

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Max W. Dulin (Creator)
Bruce K. Kirchoff, Emeritus Professor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
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Abstract: The related concepts of paedomorphosis in the secondary xylem, insular woodiness, and secondary woodiness are reviewed and evaluated in order to clearly distinguish the phenomenon involved, and provide a firm foundation for future research in this area. The theory of paedomorphosis refers to the occurrence of certain juvenile xylem characteristics, such as scalariform perforation plates and lateral wall pitting, in the secondary xylem of shrubby, suffrutescent, pachycaulous, and lianoid growth forms. Paedomorphic characteristics are often found in insular woody species, a fact that has caused paedomorphosis to be associated with secondary woodiness. The anatomy of the secondary xylem in Xanthorhiza simplicissima (Ranunculaceae), Coreopsis gigantea (Asteraceae), and Mahonia bealei (Berberidaceae) is described in order to provide specific data for discussion. These species serve as test cases for the presence of paedomorphosis, and the evolution of secondary woodiness. The secondary xylem of all three species was found to have a degree of paedomorphosis, with Coreopsis having the greatest number of paedomorphic characteristics, Xanthorhiza having an intermediate number, and Mahonia possessing only a single characteristic. Plotting the occurrence of the character states woody and nonwoody on phylogenetic trees containing these taxa shows that Coreopsis is secondarily woody, while the ancestry of the other two species cannot be unambiguously established. These results must, however, be considered preliminary as the occurrence of secondary growth in many “herbaceous” plants often goes unreported. Although paedomorphosis is often associated with secondary woodiness, there are examples of paedomorphic wood in primitively woody taxa. One conclusion is that the degree of paedomorphosis may be a better indicator of the mechanical requirements of the shoot then of its evolutionary history.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2010
wood, secondary Xylem, evolution, paedomorphosis, xanthorhiza, mahonia, biology, plant evolution, botany

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