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Wood anatomy of the Mascarene Dombeyoideae: Systematic and ecological implications

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The Dombeyoideae (Malvaceae) are one of the most diversified groups of plants in the Mascarene Islands. Species of Dombeya Cav., Ruizia Cav. and Trochetia DC. are distributed in almost all parts of the archipelago and show a wide diversity in their growth forms. This study provides the first wood anatomical descriptions of 17 out of the 22 Mascarene species of Dombeyoideae. Their wood anatomy is similar to that of previously described species: wide vessels, presence of both apotracheal and paratracheal parenchyma, and storied structure. In addition, we also found a second wood anatomical pattern with narrower vessels, high vessel frequency and thick-walled fibres. The two aforementioned wood patterns are considered in a phylogenetic context and used to trace the evolutionary history of several wood anatomical features. For example, the pseudoscalariform pit arrangement supports a sister group relationship between Trochetia granulata Cordem. and T. blackburniana Bojer ex Baker and may be a new synapomorphy of the genus Trochetia. Finally, wood variability is evaluated in relation to geographic, climatic and biological data. Despite the juvenile nature of some of the specimens studied, we discuss how the habit, but also factors related to humidity, influence the variability observed in the Mascarene Dombeyoideae wood structure.


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