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The ancestral flower of angiosperms and its early diversification

Journal article
Authors H. Sauquet
M. von Balthazar
S. Magallon
J. A. Doyle
P. K. Endress
E. J. Bailes
E. B. de Morais
K. Bull-Herenu
L. Carrive
M. Chartier
G. Chomicki
M. Coiro
R. Cornette
J. H. L. El Ottra
C. Epicoco
C. S. P. Foster
F. Jabbour
A. Haevermans
T. Haevermans
R. Hernandez
S. A. Little
S. Lofstrand
J. A. Luna
J. Massoni
S. Nadot
S. Pamperl
C. Prieu
E. Reyes
P. dos Santos
K. M. Schoonderwoerd
S. Sontag
A. Soulebeau
Y. Staedler
George Tschan
J. Schonenberger
Published in Nature Communications
Volume 8
ISSN 2041-1723
Publication year 2017
Published at Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences
Language en
Links dx.doi.org/10.1038/ncomms16047
Keywords discrete characters, morphological character, phylogenetic analysis, correlated evolution, likelihood approach, living angiosperms, basal, angiosperms, plastid genomes, origin, genes
Subject categories Biological Sciences


Recent advances in molecular phylogenetics and a series of important palaeobotanical discoveries have revolutionized our understanding of angiosperm diversification. Yet, the origin and early evolution of their most characteristic feature, the flower, remains poorly understood. In particular, the structure of the ancestral flower of all living angiosperms is still uncertain. Here we report model-based reconstructions for ancestral flowers at the deepest nodes in the phylogeny of angiosperms, using the largest data set of floral traits ever assembled. We reconstruct the ancestral angiosperm flower as bisexual and radially symmetric, with more than two whorls of three separate perianth organs each (undifferentiated tepals), more than two whorls of three separate stamens each, and more than five spirally arranged separate carpels. Although uncertainty remains for some of the characters, our reconstruction allows us to propose a new plausible scenario for the early diversification of flowers, leading to new testable hypotheses for future research on angiosperms.

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