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Keywords:

  • basal angiosperms;
  • carpels;
  • early flower evolution;
  • Magnoliidae;
  • ovules;
  • structure and evolution

Carpel and ovule structure was comparatively studied in representatives of all eight families of the Laurales: Amborellaceae, Calycanthaceae, Chloranthaceae, Gomortegaceae, Hernandiaceae, Lauraceae, Monimiaceae, and Trimeniaceae. In all representatives the carpels are closed at anthesis. As in Magnoliales/winteroids, closure takes place in three different modes: (1) by postgenital fusion of the stylar (and ovarial) ventral slit (Calycanthaceae, Gomortegaceae, Lauraceae, Hernandiaceae); (2) by occlusion of the inner space by secretion (Amborellaceae, Chloranthaceae, Trimeniaceae, Mollinedioideae of Monimiaceae), all having extremely ascidiate carpels; (3) by a combination of (1) and (2), whereby the ventral slit in the style is postgenitally fused but a central canal remains open, which is filled by secretion (Monimiaceae except Mollinedioideae). The carpels have a single ovule in ventral median placentation; only Calycanthaceae have two lateral ovules, although the upper ovule degenerates. In contrast to Magnoliales/winteroids, several representatives have orthotropous or almost orthotropous ovules (Amborellaceae, Chloranthaceae, Gomortegaceae). Mature ovules vary in length between 425 μm (some Monimiaceae) and 1500 urn (some Calycanthaceae, Trimeniaceae). Although all ovules are crassinucellar, nucellus breadth varies between 60 μm (Chimonanthus, Calycanthaceae) and 500 μm (Hemandia, Hernandiaceae). In almost all representatives the single ovule (two in Calycanthaceae) tightly fills out the ovarial cavity. The micropyle is mostly formed by the inner integument. In a few cases there is no micropyle and the nucellar apex makes direct contact with the inner ovary surface or the funicle (Lauraceae p.p., Calycanthaceae p.p., Hernandiaceae p.p., Monimiaceae p.p.). The ovule is pachychalazal (or perichalazal) in Lauraceae, some Hernandiaceae, and Gomortegaceae. Both integuments are variously lobed or unlobed. The outer integument is semiannular or annular, and this may vary within a family (Calycanthaceae, Hernandiaceae, Monimiaceae); it is also exceedingly diverse in thickness (2–23 cell layers). Gynoecial traits support the association of Chloranthaceae, Trimeniaceae, and Amborellaceae, and also separately Gomortegaceae, Hernandiaceae, and Lauraceae. In addition, affinities of the first group with Schisandraceae, Illiciaceae and Austrobaileyaceae may also be supported.