Research Article

Classification and phylogenetic analysis of Chinese hawthorn assessed by plant and pollen morphology

Published: September 19, 2016
Genet. Mol. Res. 15(3): gmr8739 DOI: https://doi.org/10.4238/gmr.15038739
Cite this Article:
(2016). Classification and phylogenetic analysis of Chinese hawthorn assessed by plant and pollen morphology. Genet. Mol. Res. 15(3): gmr8739. https://doi.org/10.4238/gmr.15038739
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Abstract

The Chinese hawthorn (Crataegus pinnatifida Bge. var. major N.E.Br.) is uniquely originated in northern China. The ecological and horticultural importance of Chinese hawthorn is considerable and some varieties are valued for their fruit or medicine extracts. Its taxonomy and phylogeny remain poorly understood. Apart from general plant morphological traits, pollen is an important trait for the classification of plants and their evolutionary origin. However, few studies have investigated the pollen of Chinese hawthorn. Here, an analysis of plant and pollen morphological characteristics was conducted in 57 cultivars from the Shenyang region. Thirty plant morphological characters and nine pollen grain characters were investigated. The plant morphological analysis revealed that the coefficient of variation for 13 traits was >20%, which indicates a high degree of variability. We also found that the pollen grains varied greatly in size, shape (from prolate to perprolate), and exine pattern (striate-perforate predominantly). The number of apertures was typically three. Based on these findings, we suggest that pollen morphology associated with plant morphological traits can be used for classification and phylogenetic analysis of Chinese hawthorn cultivars. In sum, our results provide new insights and constitute a scientific basis for future studies on the classification and evolution of Chinese hawthorn.

The Chinese hawthorn (Crataegus pinnatifida Bge. var. major N.E.Br.) is uniquely originated in northern China. The ecological and horticultural importance of Chinese hawthorn is considerable and some varieties are valued for their fruit or medicine extracts. Its taxonomy and phylogeny remain poorly understood. Apart from general plant morphological traits, pollen is an important trait for the classification of plants and their evolutionary origin. However, few studies have investigated the pollen of Chinese hawthorn. Here, an analysis of plant and pollen morphological characteristics was conducted in 57 cultivars from the Shenyang region. Thirty plant morphological characters and nine pollen grain characters were investigated. The plant morphological analysis revealed that the coefficient of variation for 13 traits was >20%, which indicates a high degree of variability. We also found that the pollen grains varied greatly in size, shape (from prolate to perprolate), and exine pattern (striate-perforate predominantly). The number of apertures was typically three. Based on these findings, we suggest that pollen morphology associated with plant morphological traits can be used for classification and phylogenetic analysis of Chinese hawthorn cultivars. In sum, our results provide new insights and constitute a scientific basis for future studies on the classification and evolution of Chinese hawthorn.

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