Micromorphological Studies on Seeds of Orobanche Species from the Iberian Peninsula and the Balearic Islands, and Their Systematic Significance

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Abstract

Background and Aims

Previous research has made clear the intrinsic taxonomic difficulties in identifying species in the genus Orobanche. The aim of this study, therefore, was to investigate the systematic utility of seed characteristics.

Methods

Light and scanning electron microscopy was used to examine the seeds of 33 taxa of Orobanche from the Iberian Peninsula and the Balearic Islands.

Key Results

Characters such as size, shape and ornamentation of the seeds were not found to be very useful in differentiation of taxa; however, other characters of the epidermal seed coat cells proved to be very helpful in this respect. Ornamentation of the periclinal walls could be used to discriminate four morphological types. Other features related to the anticlinal walls of the cells, such as thickness, presence/absence of a narrow trough, or relative depth, all contributed to the characterization of a large number of species.

Conclusions

The usefulness of micromorphological studies on seeds of Orobanche in relation to differentiating taxa is demonstrated, and a key is provided to distinguish species or groups of species.

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