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Climbers: Evolution and Diversification in Angiosperm

Book Chapter

Sharma S; Shahzad A;

2015

Biotechnological strategies for the conservation of medicinal and ornamental climbers

43909

Climbers are the perfect example of the economy of nature by using maximum utilization of sunlight water and nutrients in minimum expanse of vegetation support. During food scarcity they serve as the best food source for various animals. Climbers are also the best source of medicine vegetable and fruit. They cover a broad range of light through both supported (climbing) and unsupported (creeping) individuals. Due to their broad ecological niche (ranging from forest floor to the forest canopy) they provide a greater exposure to different pollinators that favor the ecological specialization. Climbers show a key innovation in angiosperm evolution because of species richness as compared to the non-climbing sister group. Climbers are found among ancestral groups of dicotyledons (such as the Piperales and Austrobaileyales) and monocotyledons (e.g. Dioscoreaceae Arecaceae and Araceae). Their phylogenetic breadth from rosids to asterids strongly supports multiple origins of the climbing habit within the angiosperms. Prior to the angiosperms’ evolution variations among climbers pose the hypothesis that climbers of the past had an important role in tropical forests at least in the Paleozoic era. In contrast small contribution of climbers to Mesozoic ecosystems might be due to few detailed morphological and anatomical studies capable of identifying fossil lianas as well as because of inhospitable conditions for growth and fossilization.

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Support

The Liana Ecology Project is supported by Marquette University and funded in part by the National Science Foundation.