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Pit membranes and their evolution in the Oleinae of the Oleaceae

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Chionanthus retusus and most Osmanthus spp. possess torus-bearing intervascular pit membranes in their woods. Because the genera involved are thought to be closely related and are members of the subtribe Oleinae, we hypothesized that torus morphology should be similar across taxa. A study combining light, scanning electron, and atomic force microscopy indicates that tori in both genera comprise a bipartite thickening containing a central pustular region and an encircling corona. Removal of incrusting material from the torus exposes subtending sets of parallel microfibrils. We hypothesize that the torus structures of C. retusus and Osmanthus spp. (as represented by O. armatus) have the same morphology. Optimizing torus-bearing pits on published molecular phylogenies of the subtribe Oleinae indicates parallel evolution as an explanation for torus similarity between these two groups, although a robust and well-resolved phylogeny of the Oleaceae is still lacking. A brief study of the wood anatomy of Olea dioica was also undertaken. This species is a member of the subgenus Tetrapilus and thought to be closely related to torus-bearing genera of the Oleaceae. Despite the close relationship, no tori were observed in O. dioica.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Biological Sciences, Auburn University, Rouse Life Sciences Building, Auburn ; 2: Naturalis Biodiversity Center ; 3: Department of Chemical Engineering, Auburn University, Auburn ; 4: Department of Biological Sciences, Auburn University, Rouse Life Sciences Building, Auburn


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