AbstractBackground and AimsNepenthes attracts wide attention with its spectacularly shaped carnivorous pitchers, cultural value and horticultural curiosity. Despite the plant’s iconic fascination, surprisingly little anatomical detail is known about the genus beyond its modified leaf tip traps. Here, the wood anatomical diversity of Nepenthes is explored. This diversity is further assessed with a phylogenetic framework to investigate whether the wood characters within the genus are relevant from an evolutionary or ecological perspective, or rather depend on differences in developmental stages, growth habits, substrates or precipitation.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.
Annals of Botany – Oxford University Press
Published: May 1, 2017
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