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  1. Abstract Background and Aims

    Few studies of angiosperms have focused on androecial evolution in conjunction with evolutionary shifts in corolla morphology and pollinator relationships. The Western Hemisphere clade of Justiciinae (Acanthaceae) presents the rare opportunity to examine remarkable diversity in staminal morphology. We took a phylogenetically informed approach to examine staminal diversity in this hypervariable group and asked whether differences in anther thecae separation is associated with phylogenetically informed patterns of variation in corolla morphology. We further discuss evidence for associations between anther diversity and pollinators in this lineage.


    For the Dianthera/Sarotheca/Plagiacanthus (DSP) clade of Western Hemisphere Justiciinae, we characterized floral diversity based on a series of corolla measurements and using a model-based clustering approach. We then tested for correlations between anther thecae separation and corolla traits, and for shifts in trait evolution, including evidence for convergence.

    Key Results

    There is evolutionary vagility in corolla and anther traits across the DSP clade with little signal of phylogenetic constraint. Floral morphology clusters into four distinct groups that are, in turn, strongly associated with anther thecae separation, a novel result in Acanthaceae and, to our knowledge, across flowering plants. These cluster groups are marked by floral traits that strongly point to associations with pollinating animals. Specifically, species that are known or likely to be hummingbird pollinated have stamens with parallel thecae, whereas those that are likely bee or fly pollinated have stamens with offset, divergent thecae.


    Our results suggest that anther thecae separation is likely under selection in concert with other corolla characters. Significant morphological shifts detected by our analyses corresponded to putative shifts from insect to hummingbird pollination. Results from this study support the hypothesis that floral structures function in an integrated manner and are likely subject to selection as a suite. Further, these changes can be hypothesized to represent adaptive evolution.

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  2. Abstract— Acanthaceae is a family of tropical flowering plants with approximately 4900 species. Despite remarkable variation in morphological traits, research on patterns of character evolution has been limited by uncertain relationships among some of the major lineages. We sampled 16 taxa from these major lineages to estimate a phylogenomic framework using a combination of five newly sequenced shotgun genome skims plus seven new and four publicly available transcriptomes. We used OrthoFinder2 to infer a species tree with strong branch support. Except for the placement of Crabbea , our results corroborate the most recent chloroplast and nrITS sequence-based topology. Of 587 single copy loci, 10 were recovered for all 16 species; a RAxML tree estimated from these 10 loci resulted in the same topology as other datasets assembled in this study, with the exception of relationships among three sampled species of Barleria ; however, branch support was lower compared to the tree reconstructed using more data. ABBA-BABA tests were conducted to investigate patterns of introgression involving Crabbea ; few nucleotides supported alternative topologies. SplitsTree networks of the 587 loci and 6136 orthogroup trees revealed conflict among the branches leading to Andrographideae, Whitfieldieae, and Neuracanthus . A principal components analysis in treespace found no distinct clusters of trees. Our results based on combined genome skim and transcriptome sequences strongly corroborate the previously published chloroplast and nr-ITS-based phylogeny of Acanthaceae with increased resolution among Barlerieae, Andrographideae, Whitfieldieae, and Neuracanthus . This advance in our knowledge of Acanthaceae relationships will allow us to investigate character evolution and other phenomena within this diverse group of plants in studies with increased taxon sampling. 
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