Petals are important floral organs that exhibit considerable morphological diversity in terms of colour, shape, and size. The varied morphologies of mature petals can be linked to developmental differences. The petals of Berberidaceae (a core group of Ranunculales) range from flat sheets to complex structures with nectaries, but studies on petal development and structural diversity in this group are lacking. Here, the petal development, structure, and micromorphology of seven Berberidaceae genera are characterized by microscopy to clarify the diversity of petals within this group. The results indicate that no common petal-stamen primordium exists, that petal development proceeds through five stages, and that the differentiation responsible for the diversity of the mature petals occurs during stage 4. Processes contributing to the morphological diversity of mature petals include edge thickening, gland formation, and spur formation. Nandina and Diphylleia lack nectaries. Gymnospermium has saccate nectaries, Caulophyllum has nectaries on the petal margin, Epimedium has spur nectaries, and Berberis and Mahonia have glands at the base of petals. Petal nectaries usually consist of a secretory epidermis, two to twenty layers of secretory parenchyma cells, and vascular tissues. Eleven distinct cell types were observed in the petal epidermis, three of which are secretory; papillose cells appear to be absent in Diphylleia, which shows relatively little micromorphological variation. The ancestors of Berberidaceae may have nectaries in thickened areas of their petals. The micromorphology and nectary structures of the petals in Ranunculales are also compared.
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We sincerely thank Dr. Julien B. Bachelier and three anonymous reviewers for providing valuable comments and suggestions. We are very grateful to Ms. Min-rong Luo of College of Horticulture, Northwest A&F University for assistance with LM. We are very grateful to Ms. Chun-qian Ren for analyzing ancestral state reconstruction.
This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 31770203, 31770200, 31100141, 31300158), the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (No. GK201603067, 2017155, 2452020179), and the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities of Shaanxi Normal University (No. GK202002011).
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Su, S., Zhao, L., Ren, Y. et al. Diversity of petals in Berberidaceae: development, micromorphology, and structure of floral nectaries. Protoplasma (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00709-021-01611-7