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Embryology of Pera (Peraceae, Malpighiales): systematics and evolutionary implications

de Olivera Franca, Rafael, De-Paula, Orlando Cavalari
Journal of plant research 2017 v.130 no.4 pp. 709-721
Euphorbiaceae, Ixonanthaceae, Linaceae, Neotropics, Pera glabrata, Phyllanthaceae, Picrodendraceae, Rafflesiaceae, crystals, embryology, flowers, light microscopy, monophyly, ovules, scanning electron microscopy, synapomorphy
Pera is a neotropical genus that currently belongs to the family Peraceae. This circumscription resulted from an inclusion of the Rafflesiaceae between the old tribe Pereae and all other Euphorbiaceae, and wherein Pereae was elevated to family rank making Euphorbiaceae monophyletic again. These changes are necessary although Rafflesiaceae are holoparasitic with extremely reduced vegetative bodies and large flowers while Peraceae and Euphorbiaceae have well developed vegetative parts and reduced flowers. As the embryology of Peraceae was poorly known, and embryological processes are conservative, we studied the embryology of Pera glabrata, searching for similarities between Peraceae, Rafflesiaceae, and Euphorbiaceae that could support this grouping. Usual methods of light microscopy and scanning electron microscopy were utilised. The results show endothecium with reversed-T-shaped cells, prismatic crystals in the tapetum, and disintegrated aerenchymatous septum in the mature fruit as unique features for Peraceae and possibly apomorphies for the family. In addition to the unisexual flowers, porogamous fertilization is present and one ovule per carpel which may support the Peraceae–Rafflesiaceae–Euphorbiaceae clade. The comparative approach also suggests possible (syn-)apomorphies for linoids and phyllanthoids, only linoids, Rafflesiaceae, Euphorbiaceae, and Ixonanthaceae. The presence of a placental obturator found previously unknown in Peraceae emerged as a possible synapomorphy for the euphorbioids (including Ixonanthaceae, Linaceae, Phyllanthaceae, Picrodendraceae, Peraceae, Rafflesiaceae, and Euphorbiaceae), which appeared in a common ancestor of the group and has been lost in Rafflesiaceae.