Compared to animals, plants have been largely neglected in evolutionary developmental biology. Mainstream research has focussed on developmental genetics, while a rich body of knowledge in comparative morphology is still to be exploited. No integrated account is available. In Plant Evolutionary Developmental Biology, Minelli fills this gap using the same approach he gave to animals, revisiting traditional concepts and providing an articulated analysis of genetic and molecular data. Topics covered include leaf complexity and the evolution of flower organs, handedness, branching patterns, flower symmetry and synorganization. and less conventional topics such as fractal patterns of plant organization. Also discussed is the hitherto neglected topic of the evolvability of temporal phenotypes like a plant's annual, biennial or perennial life cycle, flowering time and the timing of abscission of flower organs. This will be informative reading for anyone in the field of plant evo-devo, from students to lecturers and researchers.
1. Introducing plant evo-devo
2. The plant phenospace
4. Genes and genomes
5. Shoot and root – meristems and branching
7. Flowers and fruits
8. Architecture and syntax of the plant body
10. Evolutionary trends
11. Looking ahead
Alessandro Minelli, Professor of Zoology at the Università degli Studi di Padova, Italy until 2011, is currently serving as Specialty Chief Editor for evolutionary developmental biology for Frontiers in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Minelli was previously Vice-President of the European Society for Evolutionary Biology. For several years his research focus was in biological systematics, but in the mid-1990s he moved his interest towards evolutionary developmental biology, the subject of his previous book The Development of Animal Form (Cambridge, 2003). On his retirement, he decided to study plants and write the botanical equivalent to his book on animal evo-devo.
"An evo-devo tour de force through the flowering plants, written with the exceptional clarity that we have come to expect of Alessandro Minelli. The book encompasses long-established ideas such as heterochrony, newer approaches based on families of developmental genes, and controversial concepts such as a botanical phylotypic stage and the possible saltational evolution of floral organs. And all the topics are discussed against the background of a modern phylogenetic tree of the angiosperms. Of the many fascinating evo-devo phenomena discussed, two of my favourites are the evolutionary reduction in complexity in parasitic plants that have completely lost the ability to photosynthesize, and developmental reversals of floral symmetry, for example from zygomorphic to actinomorphic and back again. This is a scholarly work with considerable attention to detail, yet at the same time it is immensely readable."
– Wallace Arthur, Emeritus Professor of Zoology, National University of Ireland, Galway