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Preview: Australian Journal of Botany

Australian Journal of Botany

Recent research papers from the Australian Journal of Botany


Autophagy is associated with male sterility in pistillate flowers of Maytenus obtusifolia (Celastraceae)


Isabella Veríssimo Nader Haddad, Lygia Dolores Ribeiro de Santiago-Fernandes, Silvia Rodrigues Machado


Programmed cell death (PCD) is an organised cellular degradation and may promote sterility during reproductive development. We investigated the cellular changes that lead to the absence of pollen in pistillate flowers of Maytenus obtusifolia and observed that PCD is promoted by autophagy. These results may contribute to a better understand of the cellular bases of plant fertility.

The influence of ethanol as a solvent on the gibberellic acid-induced germination of Brachyscome and Allittia (Asteraceae) seeds


Rina Aleman, Manfred Jusaitis, Joan Gibbs, Phil Ainsley, Fleur Tiver


Gibberellic acid (GA3) is a hormone often used in seed science research. Because of its low solubility in water, GA3 is commonly dissolved in a small quantity of ethanol before making up to volume with water. This low concentration of ethanol was found to affect seed germination in Brachyscome and Allittia species, so pure water is recommended for dissolving GA3 in seed trials with these species.

Seeds at the forefront: synthesis of the inaugural National Seed Science Forum and future directions in Australian seed science


Catherine A. Offord, Lydia K. Guja, Shane R. Turner, David J. Merritt - Volume 65(8)

Gibberellic acid (GA3) is a hormone often used in seed science research. Because of its low solubility in water, GA3 is commonly dissolved in a small quantity of ethanol before making up to volume with water. This low concentration of ethanol was found to affect seed germination in Brachyscome and Allittia species, so pure water is recommended for dissolving GA3 in seed trials with these species.

Does carbon storage confer waterlogging tolerance? Evidence from four evergreen species of a temperate rainforest


M. Delgado, A. Zúñiga-Feest, F. I. Piper


In evergreen rainforests, deep shade and waterlogging are two common stressors affecting seedling performance in the understorey. We tested the hypothesis that high levels of carbon storage confer shade- and waterlogging- tolerances by preventing carbon limitation under stress. Results showed that shade-tolerant species exhibited lower carbon storage and performed better under waterlogging conditions than shade-intolerant species, suggesting that carbon storage does not confer waterlogging tolerance. This information will help in understanding the dynamics of the forests where species with contrasting shade tolerance occur.

Breaking the rules: discovery of sexual deception in Caladenia abbreviata (Orchidaceae), a species with brightly coloured flowers and a non-insectiform labellum


Ryan D. Phillips, Rod Peakall


Caladenia is unique among orchids in that it contains both species pollinated by food-foraging insects, and species pollinated by sexual deception, providing the opportunity to investigate the evolution of sexual mimicry. Here, we report a new case of pollination by sexual deception in the Caladenia filamentosa complex, a group with brightly coloured, scented flowers previously thought to be pollinated by food deception. Our findings demonstrated that sexual deception can be achieved without dull-coloured flowers and insectiform labella.

Functional dioecy in Gleditsia amorphoides (Fabaceae)


María Carolina Cerino, Damián César Castro, Geraldina Alicia Richard, Eliana de Luján Exner, José Francisco Pensiero


The study of the reproductive biology of promissory wild species is essential for their culture, conservation and plant breeding. We studied the breeding system, floral morphology and floral visitors of Gleditsia amorphoides. It is a tree endemic to the Chaquenean Forest of South America, with multiple uses, such as, for example, as a source of timber and products with industrial applications, such as galactomannans and saponins. Our results showed that G. amorphoides is a xenogamous species with functionally unisexual flowers that require pollinators (beetles, flies and bees) for the formation of seeds and fruits.

Floral nectaries of Heliocarpus popayanensis and Luehea divaricata (Malvaceae-Grewioideae): structure and ultrastructure


Elsa C. Lattar, Beatriz G. Galati, Constanza S. Carrera, María S. Ferrucci


The position of floral nectaries is an important character. Nectar secretion and its relationship with floral visitors is an interesting aspect.

Unassisted invasions: understanding and responding to Australia’s high-impact environmental grass weeds


Rieks D. van Klinken, Margaret H. Friedel - Volume 65(8)


Alien grass species are among the worst environmental weeds in Australia. We analysed the 339 currently naturalised species and found 17 to seriously impact diverse environments across Australia. Available evidence suggests their success was assisted by ecological novelty, high propagule pressure and an ability to respond to, and even alter, natural disturbance regimes. New management approaches will be needed to negate these natural advantages.

Saving rainforests in the South Pacific: challenges in ex situ conservation


Karen D. Sommerville, Bronwyn Clarke, Gunnar Keppel, Craig McGill, Zoe-Joy Newby, Sarah V. Wyse, Shelley A. James, Catherine A. Offord - Volume 65(8)


Rainforests in the South Pacific are under threat as a result of ongoing logging, clearing for agriculture or mining, introduced species and other anthropogenic sources. Ex situ conservation offers a means to prevent the extinction of rainforest plants and provide a source of material for ecosystem restoration. Preliminary research to determine which species are suitable for seed banking, and which require alternative conservation methods, is urgently required.

Genetic and environmental parameters show associations with essential oil composition in West Australian sandalwood (Santalum spicatum)


Jessie Moniodis, Michael Renton, Christopher G. Jones, E. Liz Barbour, Margaret Byrne


Santalum spicatum contains a valuable, terpene-rich essential oil in its heartwood. In this study we sought to improve understanding of genetic and environmental contributors to chemical variability. Results showing links of variability with genetics and the environment will be used to direct future studies which aim to improve breeding options for terpenes sought by industry. Further work should be directed at finding additional causes of terpene variation across species of Santalum, which can be used to improve commercial and conservation goals.

Population genetics of Melaleuca irbyana (Myrtaceae) the ‘swamp tea tree’ and implications for its conservation and restoration


Reuben Burrough, Gabriel Conroy, Robert W. Lamont, Yoko Shimizu-Kimura, Alison Shapcott


The endangered tree Melaleuca irbyana (Myrtaceae) dominates the critically endangered, south-east Queensland swamp tea tree forest where there are active recovery programs. New populations were recently found in the Brigalow Belt outside its previously known range and were found to be genetically distinct. The species populations contain moderate genetic diversity and are not principally clonal. There is considerable differentiation among populations, particularly between the geographic regions it occupies, so care should be taken to consider local provenance in restoration plantings.

Wild seedlings of a tree endemic on granite outcrops show no evidence of inbreeding depression


Nicole Bezemer


Our understanding of how recruitment influences population genetic structure of plants endemic to granite outcrops is limited. I surveyed genetic diversity, growth rate and survival, and parentage of seedlings in a rare recruitment event of the granite-endemic tree Eucalyptus caesia. The seedlings were less heterozygous than adults, yet there were no trends in heterozygosity or fixation values of seedlings over 20 months to match those of adults, and no evidence for reduced growth rates or survivorship of relatively inbred offspring. E. caesia may have mechanisms in place to cope with low genetic variation and genetic insularity.

Seed ecology informs restoration approaches for threatened species in water-limited environments: a case study on the short-range Banded Ironstone endemic Ricinocarpos brevis (Euphorbiaceae)


Shane R. Turner, Wolfgang Lewandrowski, Carole P. Elliott, Luis Merino-Martín, Ben P. Miller, Jason C. Stevens, Todd E. Erickson, David J. Merritt - Volume 65(8)


Translocation of threatened species is challenging, especially when using direct seeding for in-situ establishment. Within Australia, ~14% of threatened species translocations use directly sown seeds with unpredictable and highly variable results. Using laboratory and field experiments, we focussed on understanding the relative importance of temperature, moisture, light, germination stimulants and sowing depth to develop a detailed seed ecology profile of the threatened shrub, Ricinocarpos brevis. Moisture was identified as the primary factor regulating germination and in situ emergence. With this knowledge, strategies to deal with this limitation can now be developed and implemented for future translocation success.

Comparison of biomass removal, nutrient manipulation and native seed addition to restore the ground layer of a degraded grassy woodland


E. Charles Morris, Paul Gibson-Roy


Scalping (topsoil removal), grass canopy removal by burning or slashing, nutrient reduction by adding carbon to the soil and native plant recruitment improvement by adding seed were compared as tools for restoring Cumberland Plain Woodland ground cover. The greatest increases in native species numbers occurred when (i) the topsoil was scalped and native seed added, (ii) the grass canopy was burnt, and soil carbon and native seed added; or (iii) the grass canopy was slashed and native seed added.

Demographic vulnerability of an extreme xerophyte in arid Australia


Lynda D. Prior, Quan Hua, David M. J. S. Bowman


Callitris glaucophylla is an iconic Australian conifer, but in much of the arid zone there has been little recent regeneration. We found that near Roxby Downs, at the arid extreme of its range, good rain in 2010/11 did not lead to seedling establishment, probably because the wet period was not long enough. Radiocarbon dating showed these trees have a maximum lifespan of ~270 years, which together with instrumental climate records suggests that here, trees of this species have only 2–8 climatic opportunities to reproduce.

Benefits of adopting seed-based technologies for rehabilitation in the mining sector: a Pilbara perspective


Todd E. Erickson, Miriam Muñoz-Rojas, Olga A. Kildisheva, Brad A. Stokes, Stephen A. White, Joanne L. Heyes, Emma L. Dalziell, Wolfgang Lewandrowski, Jeremy J. James, Matthew D. Madsen, Shane R. Turner, David J. Merritt - Volume 65(8)


Many aspects of seed biology are often overlooked in large-scale rehabilitation programs leading to the inefficient use of seed, and, consequently, limited plant establishment success. Through targeted research programs, a large body of empirical seed-use knowledge is now available to the mining and rehabilitation sector. In this paper we highlight how this knowledge has been used to improve direct seeding practices, through large-scale seed procurement, improved seed storage protocols, seed dormancy classification for over 100 species, effective pre-treatments to promote germination, and topsoil and growth media management research

Wood anatomy of Australian mirbelioids and allies (Fabaceae, Papilionoideae)


A. V. Stepanova, A. A. Oskolski, B.-E. Van Wyk - Volume 65(7)

The evolutionary significance of wood anatomical characters of the Australian legume tribes Bossiaeeae and Mirbelieae is explored for the first time. Short vessel elements and the unique presence of tanniniferous tubes support the idea of a relationship with the South African tribe Hypocalypteae. The results highlight another interesting connection between the Australian and South African floras.

Can the mother plant age of Acacia melanoxylon (Leguminosae) modulate the germinative response to fire?


Oscar Cruz, Juan García-Duro, Mercedes Casal, Otilia Reyes - Volume 65(7)

To control or to favour populations of Acacia melanoxylon it is necessary to know its germinative strategy. Our work shows that fire can greatly affect the amount of seeds of A. melanoxylon germinated and that the age of mother plants influences the time in which the germination occurs after fire. These results have important implications for the management of this species whatever its purpose – either the implementation of control measures or ecological restoration.

Priorities for enhancing the ex situ conservation and use of Australian crop wild relatives


Sally L. Norton, Colin K. Khoury, Chrystian C. Sosa, Nora P. Castañeda-Álvarez, Harold A. Achicanoy, Steven Sotelo - Volume 65(8)


Contributions by Australia’s crop wild relatives to plant breeding are dependent upon their availability for research via genebanks, yet the comprehensiveness of genebank collections for these species has not been assessed. We determined the state of representation of Australia’s major food crop wild relatives in ex situ conservation, identifying the gaps needing to be filled and outlining the key activities required to more fully safeguard their diversity and to increase their use.

Insect herbivory on snow gum (Eucalyptus pauciflora, Myrtaceae) saplings near the alpine treeline: the influence of local- and landscape-scale processes


Citra D. Dashiell, Shannon LeBel, Peter T. Green, Susanna E. Venn, John W. Morgan - Volume 65(7)

Ecological interactions between plants and insect herbivores in Australian high mountains remain largely unexplored. We quantify the effects of herbivores on snow gum saplings near the alpine treeline and show that leaf loss is a function of elevation, plant height and traits such as leaf thickness.

Nutritional and physiological responses of the dicotyledonous halophyte Sarcocornia fruticosa to salinity


Pedro García-Caparrós, Alfonso Llanderal, Maribela Pestana, Pedro José Correia, María Teresa Lao - Volume 65(7)

Plants of Sarcocornia fruticosa were subjected to five saline treatments (10 (control), 60, 100, 200 and 300 mM NaCl) over a period of 60 days. The results of this experiment showed that S. fruticosa can maintain its major physiological processes at 60 mM NaCl without significant dry weight reduction.

Anatomy and function of the root system of bromeliad Nidularium minutum


José L. Carvalho, Adriana H. Hayashi, Shoey Kanashiro, Armando R. Tavares - Volume 65(7)

The anatomical study of the bromeliad Nidularium minutum Mez roots showed the occurrence of a multiseriate epidermis, termed velamen. The root system was as efficient as the tank for nutrients uptake, contributing to plant growth and development, most likely assisted by the presence of velamen.

Seed viability of early maturing alpine ash (Eucalyptus delegatensis subsp. delegatensis) in the Australian Alps, south-eastern Australia, and its implications for management under changing fire regimes


Michael D. Doherty, A. Malcolm Gill, Geoffrey J. Cary, Mike P. Austin - Volume 65(7)

Eucalyptus delegatensis R.T. Baker subsp. delegatensis is an interval-sensitive, fire-killed eucalypt found in the Australian Alps. Flowering and fruiting in stands of saplings regenerating after the 2003 fires is occurring much earlier than previously thought. Seed from such early maturing alpine is viable, with a mean of 455 (s.d. = 139) germinants per 10 g of chaff and seed mix.

Morphoanatomical characteristics of leaves of Anacardium othonianum seedlings subjected to different nitrogen doses under hydroponic conditions


Layara A. Bessa, Marialva A. Moreira, Fabiano G. Silva, Luciana C. Vitorino, Cássia L. Rodrigues, Sebastião C. V. Filho - Volume 65(7)

Nitrogen is an essential nutrient for plant metabolic processes, so nutritional conditions can affect leaves and plant survival. A study of the effects of N on the foliar morphoanatomy of Anacardium othonianum showed that absence and excess of this nutrient affect leaf structure, as well as the synthesis of compounds of the metabolism. This work contributes to biological knowledge this species and to the growth of healthier seedlings.

Flower development in species of Croton (Euphorbiaceae) and its implications for floral morphological diversity in the genus


Karina Bertechine Gagliardi, Inês Cordeiro, Diego Demarco - Volume 65(7)

Flowers and inflorescences are extremely diverse and some of them show structures that are difficult to interpret, which led us to ask: how are these flowers built? Inside the family of castor beans, Euphorbiaceae, a large group, Croton, shows small flowers containing some structures that are alternatively considered as petals, glands or simple filaments. Studying the development of these flowers reveals the origin of the floral parts and their real identity, taking us closer to decipher flower diversity.’