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Revista de Biología Tropical

On-line version ISSN 0034-7744Print version ISSN 0034-7744


SILVA, João Marcelo; POTSCH ANDREATA, Regina Helena  and  APPEZZATO-DA-GLORIA, Beatriz. Aerial organ anatomy of Smilax syphilitica (Smilacaceae). Rev. biol. trop [online]. 2012, vol.60, n.3, pp.1137-1148. ISSN 0034-7744.

Smilax L. in Brazil is represented by 32 taxa and it is a taxonomically difficult genus because the plants are dioecious and show wide phenotypic variation. The analysis and use of leaf anatomy characters is recognized as a frequently successful taxonomic method to distinguish between individual taxon, when floral material is absent or minute differences in flowers and foliage exist such as in Smilax. The aim of this study was to characterize the anatomical features of the aerial organs in Smilax syphilitica collected from the Atlantic Rainforest, in Santa Teresa-ES and the Smilax aff. syphilitica from the Amazon Rainforest, in Manaus, Brazil. For this, a total of three samples of Smilax were collected per site. Sample leaves and stems were fixed with FAA 50, embedded in historesin, sectioned on a rotary microtome, stained and mounted in synthetic resin. Additionally, histochemical tests were performed and cuticle ornamentation was analyzed with standard scanning electron microscopy. S. syphilitica and S. aff. syphilitica differed in cuticle ornamentation, epidermal cell arrangement and wall thickness, stomata type and orientation, calcium oxalate crystal type, and position of stem thorns. Leaf blades of S. syphilitica from the Amazon Rainforest have a network of rounded ridges on both sides, while in S. aff. syphilitica, these ridges are parallel and the spaces between them are filled with numerous membranous platelets. Viewed from the front, the epidermal cells of S. syphilitica have sinuous walls (even more pronounced in samples from the Amazon); while in S. aff. syphilitica, these cells are also sinuous but elongated in the cross-section of the blade and arranged in parallel. Stomata of S. syphilitica are paracytic, whereas in S. aff. syphilitica, are both paracytic and anisocytic, and their polar axes are directed towards the mid-vein. Calcium oxalate crystals in S. syphilitica are prisms, whereas in S. aff. syphilitica, crystal sand. Thorns occur in nodes and internodes in S. syphilitica but only in internodes in S. aff. syphilitica. These features have proven to be of diagnostic value and may support a separation into two species, but future studies are needed to confirm that S. aff. syphilitica is indeed a new taxon.

Keywords : aerial stems; crystals; cuticle; leaves; greenbrier; Smilacaceae.

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