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Preformation and distribution of staminate and pistillate flowers in growth units of Nothofagus alpina and N. obliqua (Nothofagaceae)

Puntieri, Javier G., Grosfeld, Javier E., Heuret, Patrick
Annals of botany 2009 v.103 no.3 pp. 411-421
Nothofagus, branches, buds, evolution, flowering, flowers, growing season, leaves, models, national parks, parents, probability, self-pollination, trees, Argentina
BACKGROUND AND AIMS: The distribution and differentiation times of flowers in monoecious wind-pollinated plants are fundamental for the understanding of their mating patterns and evolution. Two closely related South American Nothofagus species were compared with regard to the differentiation times and positions of staminate and pistillate flowers along their parent growth units (GUs) by quantitative means. METHODS: Two samples of GUs that had extended in the 2004-2005 growing season were taken in 2005 and 2006 from trees in the Lanín National Park, Patagonia, Argentina. For the first sample, axillary buds of the parent GUs were dissected and the leaf, bud and flower primordia of these buds were identified. The second sample included all branches derived from the parent GUs in the 2005-2006 growing season. KEY RESULTS: Both species developed flowering GUs with staminate and/or pistillate flowers; GUs with both flower types were the most common. The position of staminate flowers along GUs was similar between species and close to the proximal end of the GUs. Pistillate flowers were developed more distally along the GUs in N. alpina than in N. obliqua. In N. alpina, the nodes bearing staminate and pistillate flowers were separated by one to several nodes with axillary buds, something not observed in N. obliqua. Markovian models supported this between-species difference. Flowering GUs, including all of their leaves and flowers were entirely preformed in the winter buds. CONCLUSIONS: Staminate and pistillate flowers of N. alpina and N. obliqua are differentiated at precise locations on GUs in the growing season preceding that of their antheses. The differences between N. alpina and N. obliqua (and other South American Nothofagus species) regarding flower distribution might relate to the time of anthesis of each flower type and, in turn, to the probabilities of self-pollination at the GU level.