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Abstract Detail

Frontiers in fern gametophyte research

Watkins, James [1].

Ecology of the fern gametophyte.

“The general conclusion which follows from a study of the gametophyte in ferns is that its vegetative characters are deficient in stability and in variety of detail and consequently they are of minor importance for phyletic comparison.” (F.O. Bower 1923, The Ferns.). In stating this, Bower inadvertently sent the study of ferns into a pteridological tailspin. Even the great R.E. Holttum had limited powers to reverse this trajectory. In what seems like a modern plea for a reasonable approach to fern ecology Holttum states: “We are accustomed to see and to marvel at the greatly varied form and adaptation of the sporophytes, which are the ferns as we know them, but indeed there must be nearly as much variety of adaptation among the gametophytes.” (R.E. Holttum 1938, Manual of Pteridology). It was not until many years later that pioneers like Atkinson, Stokey, Nayar, and Kaur began to alter course by amassing dozens of detailed studies on gametophyte morphology clearly demonstrating that, when grown under consistent conditions, gametophyte morphology was consistent and predictable… and radically different across lineages. A clear linkage between morphology and ecology was only recently made by innovative studies originating from the Farrar lab at Iowa State. We now know that fern gametophytes: can be long-lived (on the scale of decades in tropical forests), reach massive dinner plate sizes in some cases, exhibit spectacular degrees of stress tolerance, grow in places where the sporophytes cannot, compete via physical and biochemical warfare, and directly influence the ecology of ferns. The goal of this talk will be to review our current knowledge of fern gametophyte ecology and present novel ideas related to gametophyte stress tolerance and competitive interactions: and yes, Holttum is correct.

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Fern Gametophyte Ecology

1 - Colgate University, Department of Botany, 129 Ho Science Center, 13 Oak Drive, Hamilton, NY, 13346-1338, USA, 315-228-7660

Desiccation Tolerance

Presentation Type: Symposium or Colloquium Presentation
Session: C4
Location: Prince of Wales/Riverside Hilton
Date: Tuesday, July 30th, 2013
Time: 9:00 AM
Number: C4004
Abstract ID:615
Candidate for Awards:None

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