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Fibonacci spirals in a brown alga [Sargassum muticum (Yendo) Fensholt] and in a land plant [Arabidopsis thaliana (L.) Heynh.]: a case of morphogenetic convergence

Peaucelle, Alexis, Couder, Yves
Acta Societatis Botanicorum Poloniae 2016 v.85 no.4 pp. asbp.3526
Arabidopsis thaliana, Sargassum muticum, algae, blades, branches, embryophytes, meristems, models, phyllotaxy, thallus
In this article, the morphology of a brown alga is revisited and compared to the phyllotaxis of land plants. The alga, Sargassum muticum (Yendo) Fensholt has a highly organized thallus with a stipe, the stem-like main axis, and hierarchically organized lateral branches of successive orders. Around each of these axes, the lateral organs: blades, side-branches, and receptacles grow in a spiral disposition. As in land plants, this organization is related to an apical mode of growth. Measurements performed along the mature differentiated axes as well as in their meristematic regions confirm the similarity of the large-scale organization of this brown alga with that of the land plants. In particular, the divergence angle between successive elements has similar values and it results from the existence around the meristem of parastichies having the same Fibonacci ordering. This is remarkable in view of the fact that brown algae (Phaeophyceae) and land plants (Embryophyta) are two clades that diverged approximately 1800 million years ago when they were both unicellular organisms. We argue that the observed similarity results from a morphogenetic convergence. This is in strong support of the genericity and robustness of self-organization models in which similar structures, here Fibonacci related spirals, can be obtained in various situations in which the genetic and physiological implementation of development can be of a different nature.