Table of Contents

15 December 2016, Volume 54 Issue 6
Cover illustration: The cover art (by H. Schneider) reflects the content of this special issue on ferns and lycophytes by highlighting keywords and the positions of these groups in the land plant phylogeny over a spore at the onset of the germination. The phylogeny indicates the placement of all orders of extant land plants, as currently accepted, with the three lycophyte orders and the eleven fern orders (including horsetails) in blue and green, respectively. The phylogenetic hypothesis is a composite of recent phy [Detail] ...
  • Harald Schneider,Eric Schuettpelz
    J Syst Evol. 2016, 54(6): 561-562.
  • Research Articles
  • The Pteridophyte Phylogeny Group
    J Syst Evol. 2016, 54(6): 563-603.
    Phylogeny has long informed pteridophyte classification. As our ability to infer evolutionary trees has improved, classifications aimed at recognizing natural groups have become increasingly predictive and stable. Here, we provide a modern, comprehensive classification for lycophytes and ferns, down to the genus level, utilizing a community-based approach. We use monophyly as the primary criterion for the recognition of taxa, but also aim to preserve existing taxa and circumscriptions that are both widely accepted and consistent with our understanding of pteridophyte phylogeny. In total, this classification treats an estimated 11 916 species in 337 genera, 51 families, 14 orders, and two classes. This classification is not intended as the final word on lycophyte and fern taxonomy, but rather a summary statement of current hypotheses, derived from the best available data and shaped by those most familiar with the plants in question. We hope that it will serve as a resource for those wanting references to the recent literature on pteridophyte phylogeny and classification, a framework for guiding future investigations, and a stimulus to further discourse.
  • Neil Brummitt, Elina Aletrari, Mindy M. Syfert, Mark Mulligan
    J Syst Evol. 2016, 54(6): 604-616.
    Recent efforts to improve the representation of plant species included on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species through the IUCN Sampled Red List Index (SRLI) for Plants have led to the assessment of almost 1000 additional species of pteridophytes and lycophytes under IUCN Red List criteria. Species were selected at random from all lineages of pteridophytes and lycophytes and are taxonomically as well as ecologically representative of pteridophyte and lycophyte diversity. 16% of pteridophyte and lycophyte species are globally threatened with extinction and 22% are of elevated conservation concern (threatened or Near Threatened); of species of pteridophytes and lycophytes previously included on the Red List, 54% were considered threatened. Over half of pteridophyte and lycophyte species assessed for the SRLI use estimates of range size; therefore the method used to measure range may affect the Red List category assigned. We evaluated this using two alternative metrics for estimating range, species distribution modelling (SDM) and ecologically suitable habitat (ESH), for 227 species endemic to the Neotropical biogeographic realm. Differences between range estimates were small when ranges were small but increased with increasing range size. For 58 (25.6%) species alternative modelling techniques result in the species meeting the threshold for a different IUCN Red List category from using extent of occurrence. Modelling threatened species distributions also highlights priority areas for conservation in tropical and subtropical montane forests that are the most species-rich habitat for small-range pteridophyte and lycophyte species, but which are now increasingly subject to rapid conversion to agriculture.
  • Reviews
  • Michael Kessler, Dirk Nikolaus Karger, Jürgen Kluge
    J Syst Evol. 2016, 54(6): 617-625.
    Evolutionary processes such as adaptation, ecological filtering, and niche conservatism involve the interaction of organisms with their environment and are thus commonly studied along environmental gradients. Elevational gradients have become among the most studied environmental gradients to understand large-scale patterns of species richness and composition because they are highly replicated with different combinations of geographical, environmental and historical factors. We here review the literature on using elevational gradients to understand evolutionary processes in ferns. Some phylogenetic studies of individual fern clades have considered elevation in the analysis or interpretation and postulated that fern diversification is linked to the colonization of mountain habitats. Other studies that have linked elevational community composition and hence ecological filtering with phylogenetic community composition and morphological traits, usually only found limited phylogenetic signal. However, these studies are ultimately only correlational, and there are few actual tests of the evolutionary mechanisms leading to these patterns. We identify a number of challenges for improving our understanding of how evolutionary and ecological processes are linked to elevational richness patterns in ferns: i) limited information on traits and their ecological relevance, ii) uncertainties on the dispersal kernels of ferns and hence the delimitation of regional species pools from which local assemblages are recruited, iii) limited genomic data to identify candidate genes under selection and hence actually document adaptation and selection, and iv) conceptual challenges in developing clear and testable hypotheses to how specific evolutionary processes can be linked to patterns in community composition and species richness.
  • Tom A. Ranker
    J Syst Evol. 2016, 54(6): 626-637.
    The Hawaiian Islands are home to one of the most distinctive fern and lycophyte floras in the world. Of the 144 native fern species, 76% are endemic and, including subspecies and varieties, 84% of the 167 native fern taxa are endemic. There are 15 native lycophyte species, 47% of which are endemic, and 16 taxa, 50% of which are endemic. I review here most of the available literature on Hawaiian ferns and lycophytes. Few species of ferns or lycophytes have been studied in any kind of detail and, for most, we only know basic classification and general ecological information. Although the total number of studies reviewed here is not large, research has been conducted on a wide range of topics including systematics, floristics, dispersal, phylogeny, biogeography, ecology, form and function, population genetics, microevolution, fern-animal and fern-fungi associations, reproductive biology, demography, ethnobotany, and conservation.
  • Erin M. Sigel
    J Syst Evol. 2016, 54(6): 638-655.
    The morphological and ecological intermediacy of hybrid taxa has long interested and challenged fern biologists, resulting in numerous systematic contributions focused on disentangling relationships within reticulate species complexes. From a genetic perspective, hybrid ferns are especially interesting because they represent the union of divergent parental genomes in unique evolutionary entities. This review summarizes advances in our knowledge of the genetic and genomic aspects of hybridization in ferns from the mid-20th century to the present. The different organismal products of hybridization, evolutionary aspects of additive and non-additive gene expression in allopolyploids, genetic and genomic mechanisms leading to gene silencing and loss, the roles of multiple origins and introgression for imparting genetic variation to hybrid fern taxa and their progenitors, and the utility of allopolyploid ferns to investigate mechanisms of genome evolution in the homosporous ferns are discussed. Comparisons are made to other plant lineages and important future research directions are highlighted, with the goal of stimulating additional research on hybrid ferns.
  • Amanda L. Grusz
    J Syst Evol. 2016, 54(6): 656-665.
    This review provides a synopsis of apogamous reproduction in ferns and highlights important progress made in recent studies of fern apomixis. First, a summary of the apomictic fern life cycle is provided, distinguishing between two pathways to diploid spore production that have been documented in apomictic ferns (premeiotic endomitosis and meiotic first division restitution) and briefly discussing the evolutionary implications of each. Next, recent trends in fern apomixis research are discussed, exposing a shift in focus from the observation and characterization of apomixis in ferns to more integrated studies of the evolutionary and ecological implications of this reproductive mode. Peer-reviewed contributions from the past decade are then summarized, spanning the identification of new apomictic lineages through to the developmental, phylogenetic, and population genetic insights that have been made in studies of fern apomixis during that time. Gaps in our understanding are also discussed, including the extent and implications of recombinant apomixis in ferns, the possible reversibility of reproductive mode (from apomictic to sexual) in ferns, and the genomic causes and consequences of apomixis in seed free vascular plants. To conclude, future directions for fern apomixis research are proposed in the context of modern technological advances and recent insights from studies of apomixis in other groups.
  • Silvia Pressel, Martin I. Bidartondo, Katie J. Field, William R. Rimington, Jeffrey G. Duckett
    J Syst Evol. 2016, 54(6): 666-678.
    Current understanding of the nature and function of fungal associations in pteridophytes is surprisingly patchy given their key evolutionary position, current research foci on other early-branching plant clades, and major efforts at unravelling mycorrhizal evolution and the mechanisms underlying this key interaction between plants and fungi. Here we provide a critical review of current knowledge of fungal associations across pteridophytes and consider future directions making recommendations along the way. From a comprehensive survey of the literature, a confused picture emerges: suggestions that members of the Lycopsida harbour Basidiomycota fungi contrast sharply with extensive cytological and recent molecular evidence pointing to exclusively Glomeromycota and/or Mucoromycotina associations in this group. Similarly, reports of dark septate, assumingly ascomycetous, hyphae in a range of pteridophytes, advocating a mutualistic relationship, are not backed by functional evidence and the fact that the fungus invariably occupies dead host tissue points to saprotrophy and not mutualism. The best conclusion that can be reached based on current evidence is that the fungal symbionts of pteridophytes belong to the two fungal lineages Mucoromycotina and Glomeromycota. Do symbiotic fungi and host pteridophytes engage in mutually beneficial partnerships? To date, only two pioneering studies have addressed this key question demonstrating reciprocal exchange of nutrients between the sporophytes of Ophioglossum vulgatum and Osmunda regalis and their fungal symbionts. There is a pressing need for more functional investigations also extending to the gametophyte generation and coupled with in vitro isolation and resynthesis studies to unravel the effect of the fungi on their host.
  • Thaís Elias Almeida, Alexandre Salino
    J Syst Evol. 2016, 54(6): 679-690.
    For ferns and lycophytes, the Neotropics is a hotspot of diversity (3000–4500 species), and second only to Southeastern Asia in richness and endemism. This paper presents the current state of knowledge on fern and lycophyte systematics in the Neotropics, and emphasizes sampling sufficiency and current taxonomic and phylogenetic knowledge. Plant systematics plays an important role in documenting diversity and geographic distribution patterns that are needed to understand relationships and evolutionary patterns, and a vital role in species conservation. Although in recent decades this field of science has undergone a revolution because of new approaches and techniques, data presented in this work shows that large gaps remain and there is still a long path towards fully understanding fern and lycophyte systematics in Neotropics. Approaches and how to choose areas that should be targeted in order to try to fulfill these knowledge gaps are discussed.
  • Hong-Mei Liu, Shou-Zhou Zhang, Tao Wan, Peris W. Kamau, Zheng-Wei Wang, Aurelie Grall, Andreas Hemp, Harald Schneider
    J Syst Evol. 2016, 54(6): 691-705.
    In this review, we explore our current understanding of the fern and lycophyte diversity occurring in the Eastern Afromontane Biodiversity Hotspot (EABH). The review explores the species diversity of this region in the context of the Afromadagascan pteridophyte diversity based on an exhaustive species list assembled in the synopsis of Afromadagascan pteridophytes published by Roux in 2009. The list was updated by incorporating recent progress in our understanding of the taxonomy and phylogeny of these plants. Evidence for a distinct pteridophyte flora occurring in the East African mountain region was discovered using ordination and clustering analyses. This EABH floras shares links to other Afromadagascan pteridophyte floras such as the one in the tropical lowland forests of central and western Africa. These floras share the dominance of species that preferably occur in humid climates whereas other African pteridophyte floras tend to contain a higher proportion of xeric adapted ferns. The phylogenetic composition of the EABH pteridophyte flora was assessed by comparing global versus local proportion of orders, families, and genera. This analysis revealed distinct patterns that are partly caused by the radiation of Blotiella and Triplophyllum besides selective colonization of species pre-adapted to Afromadagascan climates. In situ speciation in the East African tropical mountains may have contributed to the global diversity of widespread genera such as Asplenium and Pteris. In summary, this is the first comprehensive attempt to assess the pteridophyte diversity of the East African mountains providing the framework for future studies on their conservation, ecology, and evolution.