Chinese Bulletin of Botany ›› 2020, Vol. 55 ›› Issue (4): 505-512.DOI: 10.11983/CBB19093

• SPECIAL TOPICS • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Stepping out of the Shadow of Goethe: for a More Scientific Plant Systematics

Xin Wang1,*(),Zhongjian Liu2,3,Wenzhe Liu4,Wenbo Liao5,Xin Zhang6,Zhong Liu7,Guangwan Hu8,9,Xuemin Guo10,Yaling Wang11   

  1. 1State Key Laboratory of Palaeobiology and Stratigraphy, Nanjing Institute of Geology and Palaeontology and Center for Excellence in Life and Paleoenvironment, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Nanjing 210008, China
    2Key Laboratory of National Forestry and Grassland Administration for Orchid Conservation and Utilization at College of Landscape Architecture, Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University, Fuzhou 350002, China
    3Fujian Colleges and Universities Engineering Research Institute of Conservation and Utilization of Natural Bioresources, College of Forestry, Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University, Fuzhou 350002, China
    4College of Life Sciences, Northwest University, Xi’an 710069, China
    5Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratory of Plant Resources, State Key Laboratory of Biocontrol, School of Life Sciences, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou 510275, China
    6Qinling National Forest Ecosystem Research Station, College of Forestry, Northwest A&F University, Yangling 712100, China
    7School of Pharmacy, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai 200240, China
    8Key Laboratory of Plant Germplasm Enhancement and Specialty Agriculture, Wuhan Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Wuhan 430074, China
    9Sino-Africa Joint Research Center, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Wuhan 430074, China
    10College of Marine Resources and Environment, Hebei Normal University of Science & Technology, Changli 066600, China
    11Xi’an Botanical Garden of Shaanxi Province, Xi’an 710061, China
  • Received:2019-05-21 Accepted:2020-04-15 Online:2020-07-01 Published:2020-05-21
  • Contact: Xin Wang

Abstract: According to the Traditional Theory, a carpel (basic unit of angiosperm gynoecium) is derived from a modified leaf or megasporophyll through longitudinal folding and inward enrolling. Unfortunately, this theory introduces an unnegotiable gap between angiosperms and gymnosperms. Different from the Traditional Theory, the Unifying Theory provides a link bridging the gap mentioned above—an angiosperm carpel is derived from the synorganization between an ovule-bearing branch and an enclosing leaf. Recently two papers authored by leading botanists, Peter R. Crane and Peter K. Endress, respectively, expressed their opinions different from the Traditional Theory of angiosperm evolution. Endress stated that a carpel is result of synorganization between foliar part(s) plus ovule(s); and Crane stated that ovules/seeds are borne on the termini of branches. Combining the two, it is easy to infer that a carpel is equivalent to a foliar part plus an ovuliferous branch, a conclusion in line with the core conception of the Unifying Theory. The subtle changes in perspectives of these two leading botanists imply that there will be a major paradigm shift in botany soon. In order to make our botanists aware of the coming-soon changes in plant evolution theory, we summarize the latest progresses in relevant areas.

Key words: evolution, Goethe, angiosperms, plant systematics