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Keywords:

  • Acorales;
  • Alismatales;
  • angiosperm systematics;
  • angiospermy;
  • carpels;
  • Dioscoreales;
  • flower evolution;
  • ovules;
  • Triuridales

Gynoecium and ovule structure was comparatively studied in representatives of the basal monocots, including Acorales (Acoraceae), Alismatales (Araceae, Alismataceae, Aponogetonaceae, Butomaceae, Hydrocharitaceae, Junc-aginaceae, Limnocharitaceae, Potamogetonaceae, Scheuchzeriaceae, Tofieldiaceae), Dioscoreales (Dioscoreaceae, Taccaceae), and Triuridaceae as a family of uncertain position in monocots. In all taxa studied the carpels or gynoecia are closed at anthesis. This closure is attained in different ways: (1) by secretion without postgenital fusion (Araceae, Hydrocharitaceae); (2) by partly postgenitally fused periphery but with a completely unfused canal (Alismataceae, Aponogetonaceae, Butomaceae, Limnocharitaceae, Scheuchzeriaceae, Dioscoreaceae, Taccaceae); (3) by completely postgenitally fused periphery but with an unfused canal in the centre (Acoraceae, Tofieldiaceae); (4) by complete postgenital fusion and without an (unfused) canal (Juncaginaceae, Potamogetonaceae). In many Alismatales (but without Araceae) carpels have two lateral lobes. The stigmatic surface is restricted to the uppermost part of the ventral slit (if the carpel is plicate); it is never distinctly double-crested (Butomaceae?). Stigmas are commonly unicellular-papillate and secretory in most taxa. The locules are filled with a (often) mucilaginous secretion in a number of taxa. Superficial (probably intrusive) ethereal oil cells were found in the carpel wall of Acorus gramineus (as in Piperales!). Idioblasts in carpels are otherwise rare. A number of basal monocots has orthotropous ovules, which is perhaps the plesiomorphic condition in the group. The presence of almost tenuinucellar (pseudocrassinucellar) ovules is relatively common (Acoraceae, many Araceae, some Alismatales s.s.), whereas completely tenuinucellar ovules are rare and do not characterize larger groups. However, crassinucellar ovules occur in the largest number of families among the study group (basal Araceae, many Alismatales s.s.) The outer integument is always annular in orthotropous ovules. The inner integument is often lobed and it mostly forms the micropyle, whereas the outer integument is always unlobed. Gynoecium structure supports the isolated position of Acoraceae as sister to all other monocots. However, in an overall view, if compared with all other families, Acoraceae clearly shows the greatest similarities with Araceae.