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Re: Making bulbils?

  • Subject: Re: Making bulbils?
  • From: "Eduardo Goncalves" <edggon@hotmail.com>
  • Date: Wed, 5 Jun 2002 15:18:01 -0500 (CDT)

Dear Randall,

    Well, we still do not have a good published phylogeny for the aroids 
(despite it is on its way), but it seems that this feature is not so unusual 
in the "higher aroids". It is known in a few Amorphs, Pinellia and, believe 
me, in a Xanthosoma from Peru! This species (not yet published - Josef 
Bogner will publish this one) produces a tubercle at the junction of 
leaflets (just like Amorphophallus symonianus), deeply immersed in the 
tissue. All of these taxa are from the  clade "Aroideae" presented by James 
French, so it may not be such a rare thing (or appeared independently at 
least 3 times in this subset the family). Anyhow, the tendency for easy 
"totipotence" is common in plants with succulent tissues and many aroids are 
quite succulent indeed. All you have in "bulbifer" aroids is a small 
specialization of an widespread feature...  Remember that Gonatopus and 
Zamioculcas do not produce spontaneous tubercles, but will start to swollen 
any portion of it if you put it in contact with anything that could be 
called soil!

                            Best wishes,


>From: "Randall M. Story" <story@caltech.edu>
>Reply-To: aroid-l@mobot.org
>To: Multiple recipients of list AROID-L <aroid-l@mobot.org>
>Subject: Re: Making bulbils?
>Date: Wed, 5 Jun 2002 13:44:16 -0500 (CDT)
>Hi Brian,
>Thanks for your response.  I guess my question is in some sense whether
>bulbils are essentially masses of generic "tuber tissue" that form on
>leaves.  If so, then they could simply grow by "reprogramming" leaf tissue
>to form "tuber tissue" so as to form what is more or less a tumor on the
>leaf.  Some pictures I have seen of bulbils seem to look like this,
>superficially at least.  Then if such a "tumor" is planted, it might 
>the complete range of cells necessary for growth.  Such a simple switch in
>cell type is easy to imagine developmentally, much more simple than somehow
>creating a "real" tuber (presumably with a range of specialized cells) on
>the leaf.  Just speculation on my part...
>Or maybe cells that will eventually form bulbils have already specialized 
>the time other leaf cells have specialized???
>Are there any guesses as to whether the common ancestor to Amorphophallus
>had a bulbil making ability that was lost in most of the other guys, or
>whether it was an "invention" in only a few species? (molecular
>phylogeneticists in the audience??).  If it was lost in the majority of
>species, they may still have some sort of latent ability to do this, even 
>it is some sort of specialized structure instead of just some tumor-like
>mass of cells.

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