METHODS: Pollen dispersal patterns and male fecundity variation of Shorea leprosula and Shorea parvifolia ssp. parvifolia on Peninsular Malaysian were investigated during two general flowering seasons (2001 and 2002), using a neighbourhood model modified by including terms accounting for variation in male fecundity among individual trees to express heterogeneity in flowering.
KEY RESULTS: The pollen dispersal patterns of the two dipterocarp species were affected by differences in conspecific tree flowering density, and reductions in conspecific tree flowering density led to an increased selfing rate. Active pollen dispersal and a larger number of effective paternal parents were observed for both species in the season of greater magnitude of general flowering (2002).
CONCLUSIONS: The magnitude of general flowering, male fecundity variation, and distance between pollen donors and mother trees should be taken into account when attempting to predict the effects of management practices on the self-fertilization and genetic structure of key tree species in tropical forest, and also the sustainability of possible management strategies, especially selective logging regimes.
Methods: Three-dimensional plant reconstruction, based on stereo cameras, combined with ray tracing was implemented to explore the light environment within the Bambara groundnut-proso millet intercropping system and associated monocrops. Gas exchange data were used to predict the total carbon gain of each component crop.
Key Results: The shading influence of the tall proso millet on the shorter Bambara groundnut results in a reduction in total canopy light interception and carbon gain. However, the increased leaf area index (LAI) of proso millet, higher photosynthetic potential due to the C4 pathway and sub-optimal photosynthetic acclimation of Bambara groundnut to shade means that increasing the number of rows of millet will lead to greater light interception and carbon gain per unit ground area, despite Bambara groundnut intercepting more light per unit leaf area.
Conclusions: Three-dimensional reconstruction combined with ray tracing provides a novel, accurate method of exploring the light environment within an intercrop that does not require difficult measurements of light interception and data-intensive manual reconstruction, especially for such systems with inherently high spatial possibilities. It provides new opportunities for calculating potential productivity within multi-species cropping systems, enables the quantification of dynamic physiological differences between crops grown as monoculture and those within intercrops, and enables the prediction of new productive combinations of previously untested crops.
Methods: Observations were performed using light microscopy and scanning electron microscopy. Ancestral states of selected wood and pith characters were reconstructed using an existing molecular phylogeny for Nepenthes and a broader Caryophyllales framework. Pairwise comparisons were assessed for possible relationships between wood anatomy and developmental stages, growth habits, substrates and ecology.
Key Results: Wood anatomy of Nepenthes is diffuse porous, with mainly solitary vessels showing simple, bordered perforation plates and alternate intervessel pits, fibres with distinctly bordered pits (occasionally septate), apotracheal axial parenchyma and co-occurring uni- and multiseriate rays often including silica bodies. Precipitation and growth habit (stem length) are linked with vessel density and multiseriate ray height, while soil type correlates with vessel diameter, vessel element length and maximum ray width. For Caryophyllales as a whole, silica grains, successive cambia and bordered perforation plates are the result of convergent evolution. Peculiar helical sculpturing patterns within various cell types occur uniquely within the insectivorous clade of non-core Caryophyllales.
Conclusions: The wood anatomical variation in Nepenthes displays variation for some characters dependent on soil type, precipitation and stem length, but is largely conservative. The helical-banded fibre-sclereids that mainly occur idioblastically in pith and cortex are synapomorphic for Nepenthes , while other typical Nepenthes characters evolved convergently in different Caryophyllales lineages.
Methods: To investigate the phylogeny and biogeography of Artocarpeae, this study used Bayesian and maximum likelihood approaches to analyze DNA sequences from six plastid and two nuclear regions from 75% of Artocarpus species, both neotropical Artocarpeae genera, and members of all other Moraceae tribes. Six fossil-based calibrations within the Moraceae family were used to infer divergence times. Ancestral areas and estimated dispersal events were also inferred.
Key Results: Artocarpeae, Artocarpus and four monophyletic Artocarpus subgenera were well supported. A late Cretaceous origin of the Artocarpeae tribe in the Americas is inferred, followed by Eocene radiation of Artocarpus in Asia, with the greatest diversification occurring during the Miocene. Borneo is reconstructed as the ancestral range of Artocarpus , with dozens of independent in situ diversification events inferred there, as well as dispersal events to other regions of Southeast Asia. Dispersal pathways of Artocarpus and its ancestors are proposed.
Conclusions: Borneo was central in the diversification of the genus Artocarpus and probably served as the centre from which species dispersed and diversified in several directions. The greatest amount of diversification is inferred to have occurred during the Miocene, when sea levels fluctuated and land connections frequently existed between Borneo, mainland Asia, Sumatra and Java. Many species found in these areas have extant overlapping ranges, suggesting that sympatric speciation may have occurred. By contrast, Artocarpus diversity east of Borneo (where many of the islands have no historical connections to the landmasses of the Sunda and Sahul shelves) is unique and probably the product of over water long-distance dispersal events and subsequent diversification in allopatry. This work represents the most comprehensive Artocarpus phylogeny and biogeography study to date and supports Borneo as an evolutionary biodiversity hotspot.
Methods: First, studies of codon usage in monocots were reviewed. The current information was then extended regarding codon usage, as well as codon-pair context bias, using four completely sequenced non-grass monocot genomes (Musa acuminata, Musa balbisiana, Phoenix dactylifera and Spirodela polyrhiza) for which comparable transcriptome datasets are available. Measurements were taken regarding relative synonymous codon usage, effective number of codons, derived optimal codon and GC content and then the relationships investigated to infer the underlying evolutionary forces.
Key Results: The research identified optimal codons, rare codons and preferred codon-pair context in the non-grass monocot species studied. In contrast to the bimodal distribution of GC3 (GC content in third codon position) in grasses, non-grass monocots showed a unimodal distribution. Disproportionate use of G and C (and of A and T) in two- and four-codon amino acids detected in the analysis rules out the mutational bias hypothesis as an explanation of genomic variation in GC content. There was found to be a positive relationship between CAI (codon adaptation index; predicts the level of expression of a gene) and GC3. In addition, a strong correlation was observed between coding and genomic GC content and negative correlation of GC3 with gene length, indicating a strong impact of GC-biased gene conversion (gBGC) in shaping codon usage and nucleotide composition in non-grass monocots.
Conclusion: Optimal codons in these non-grass monocots show a preference for G/C in the third codon position. These results support the concept that codon usage and nucleotide composition in non-grass monocots are mainly driven by gBGC.