Since the resolution of the ANA grade [Amborellales, Nymphaeales, Austrobaileyales] as sister to all other flowering plants, a few comparative studies of root structure have suggested that some of their anatomical traits could be of importance to understanding root evolutionary development and angiosperm phylogeny. However, there is still a paucity of information on root structure and apical meristems (RAMs) in these lineages and especially the sister to all other Austrobaileyales, Austrobaileya scandens
. We used microtome sections and bright field, epifluorescence, laser confocal, and scanning electron microscopy to study adventitious root RAMs and tissues of A. scandens
. Our results indicate that root structure is relatively simple in A. scandens
. The epidermis has a thick cuticle and lacks root hairs. The stele is typically diarch, or some modification thereof, and surrounded by a cortex differentiated into a uniseriate endodermis, a middle region sometimes packed with starch, some oil cells, and colonized by arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi, and a multiseriate exodermis. Secondary growth produced many vessel elements in the secondary xylem and scattered sclerenchymatous fibers in secondary phloem. The absence of distinct patterning within the RAM and between the RAM and derivative differentiating tissues shows that the RAM is open and characterized by common initials. Roots structure and anatomy of A. scandens
are thus essentially similar to some previously described in Amborella
in the ANA grade and many magnoliids, and suggest that the first woody flowering plants likely had an open RAM with common initials. Their functional and evolutionary significance in woody early-diverging and basal lineages of flowering plants and gymnosperms remains unclear, but they are clearly ancestral traits.
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