Embryology of Swertia tetraptera Maxim. (Gentianaceae) and its systematic implication
XUE Chun Ying HO Ting Nong LIU Jian Quan (Northwest Plateau Institute of Biology, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xining 810001)
The embryology of Swertia tetraptera is reported for the first time. The anther is tetrasporangiate and its wall, of which the development conforms to the dicotyledonous type, is composed of epidermis, endothecium, middle layer and tapetum at the mature stage. The tapetum has dual origin and is similar to the glandular type. Cytokinesis is of the simultaneous type and microspore tetrads are mostly tetrahedral. Pollen grains are mostly 3 celled when shed. The ovary is bicarpellate and unilocular with four series of ovules. The fused margins of two carpels intensively protrude into the locule. The ovule is unitegmic, tenuinucellate and orthotropous. The development of embryo sac is of the Polygonum type. The development of endosperm conforms to the nuclear type and the embryogeny corresponds with the Physalis Ⅰ variation of Solanad type. Three antipodal cells persist at the mature embryo sac. The embryo is at the globular stage when seeds are released from the capsule. Compared with the other studied species in Swertia, S. tetraptera shows differences from them in three distinctive embryological traits: enlargement and protrusion of the fused margins of two carpels into the ovary locule; orthotropous ovules and a developed hypostase. These three characters were previously only found in the genus Halenia of the tribe Gentianinae in the Gentianaceae,and thus suggest that S. tetraptera should be related to Halenia. The results partly correspond with the molecular evidence (Yuan Kupfer, 1995). The monophyletic Halenia clade in Yuan Kupfer's molecular cladogram includes Halenia, S. tetraptera and Frasera (section Frasera in Swertia s.l.); nevertheless, up to now, no embryological study on Frasera has been reported. The embryological results imply that the taxonomic status of S. tetraptera needs to be revaluated and the genus Swertia s.l. may not be a monophyletic group.