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Floral development of Hydrocera and Impatiens reveals evolutionary trends in the most early diverged lineages of the Balsaminaceae
Methods. Flowers at all developmental stages were examined using scanning electron microscopy and light microscopy. Key results. In Hydrocera, two whorls of five free perianth primordia develop into a less zygomorphic perianth compared with its sister genus. The androecial cap originates from five individual stamen primordia. Post-genital fusion of the upper parts of the filaments result in a filament ring below the anthers. The anthers fuse forming connivent anther-like units. The gynoecium of Hydrocera is pentamerous; it is largely synascidiate in early development. Only then is a symplicate zone formed resulting in style and stigmas. In I. omeiana, the perianth is formed as in Hydrocera. Five individual stamen primordia develop into five stamens, of which the upper part of the filaments converge with each other. The gynoecium of I. omeiana is tetramerous; it appears annular in early development.Conclusions. Comparison of the present results with developmental data from the literature confirms the perianth morphocline hypothesis in which a congenital fusion of the parts of the perianth results in a shift from pentasepalous to trisepalous flowers. In addition, the development of the androecial cap and the gynoecium follows several distinct ontogenetic sequences within the family.