False paracarpy in Seemannaralia (Araliaceae): from bilocular ovary to unilocular fruit.

Annals of botany

PubMedID: 20462851

Oskolski AA, Sokoloff DD, Van Wyk BE. False paracarpy in Seemannaralia (Araliaceae): from bilocular ovary to unilocular fruit. Ann Bot. 2010;106(1):29-36.
BACKGROUND AND AIMS
Seemannaralia appears to be fundamentally different from all other Araliaceae in the presence of a well-developed symplicate zone in its gynoecium, as well as in the ovule insertion in the symplicate zone (rather than in the cross-zone). The present investigation re-examined the floral structure of Seemannaralia with emphasis on the morphology and evolution of its gynoecium.

METHODS
Flowers and fruits of Seemannaralia gerrardii at various developmental stages were examined using light microscopy and scanning electron microscopy.

KEY RESULTS
Ovaries in the flowers of Seemannaralia are bilocular. Each ovary locule corresponds to a carpel whose ascidiate part is distinctly longer than the plicate part. Each carpel contains one fertile ovule attached to the cross-zone, and one sterile ovule as well. The fruit is unilocular: its central cavity is occupied by a single large seed. In the course of fruit development, the growth of one ovule stops while another ovule develops into the mature seed. When this ovule outgrows the available space in the locule, the septum is ruptured, forming a united cavity of two carpels.

CONCLUSIONS
Despite literature data, the synascidiate zone is well developed in the gynoecium of Seemannaralia, and the ovules are attached to the cross-zone. Its preanthetic and anthetic gynoecium has nearly the same structure as gynoecia of most other Araliaceae. The Seemannaralia fruit resembles the paracarpous gynoecium but its ground plan is very different because the central cavity is formed by mechanical rupture of the septum. The term 'pseudoparacarpy' ('false paracarpy') is proposed to describe this condition, which has not been reported to date for indehiscent fruits in any taxa other than Seemannaralia. In this genus, the pseudoparacarpy has probably resulted from a decrease in seed number in the course of the transition from zoochory to anemochory.