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  1. Summary

    Structural color is poorly known in plants relative to animals. In fruits, only a handful of cases have been described, including inViburnum tinuswhere the blue color results from a disordered multilayered reflector made of lipid droplets. Here, we examine the broader evolutionary context of fruit structural color across the genusViburnum.

    We obtained fresh and herbarium fruit material from 30Viburnumspecies spanning the phylogeny and used transmission electron microscopy, optical simulations, and ancestral state reconstruction to identify the presence/absence of photonic structures in each species, understand the mechanism producing structural color in newly identified species, relate the development of cell wall structure to reflectance inViburnum dentatum, and describe the evolution of cell wall architecture acrossViburnum.

    We identify at least two (possibly three) origins of blue fruit color inViburnumin species which produce large photonic structures made of lipid droplets embedded in the cell wall and which reflect blue light.

    Examining the full spectrum of mechanisms producing color in pl, including structural color as well as pigments, will yield further insights into the diversity, ecology, and evolution of fruit color.

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  2. Abstract

    Syndromes, wherein multiple traits evolve convergently in response to a shared selective driver, form a central concept in ecology and evolution. Recent work has questioned the existence of some classic syndromes, such as pollination and seed dispersal syndromes. Here, we discuss some of the major issues that have afflicted research into syndromes in macroevolution and ecology. First, correlated evolution of traits and hypothesized selective drivers is often relied on as the only evidence for adaptation of those traits to those hypothesized drivers, without supporting evidence. Second, the selective driver is often inferred from a combination of traits without explicit testing. Third, researchers often measure traits that are easy for humans to observe rather than measuring traits that are suited to testing the hypothesis of adaptation. Finally, species are often chosen for study because of their striking phenotypes, which leads to the illusion of syndromes and divergence. We argue that these issues can be avoided by combining studies of trait variation across entire clades or communities with explicit tests of adaptive hypotheses and that taking this approach will lead to a better understanding of syndrome‐like evolution and its drivers.

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  3. Abstract

    The colours of fleshy fruits play a critical role in plant dispersal by advertising ripe fruits to consumers. Fruit colours have long been classified into syndromes attributed to selection by animal dispersers, despite weak evidence for this hypothesis. Here, we test the relative importance of biotic (bird and mammal frugivory) and abiotic (wet season temperatures, growing season length and UV‐B radiation) factors in determining fruit colour syndrome in 3163 species of fleshy‐fruited plants. We find that both dispersers and environment are important, and they interact. In warm areas, contrastive, bird‐associated fruit colours increase withrelative bird frugivore prevalence, whereas in cold places these colours dominate even where mammalian dispersers are prevalent. We present near‐global maps of predicted fruit colour syndrome based on our species‐level model and our newly developed characterisations of relative importance of bird and mammal frugivores.

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