Plant Ecology and Evolution 155(1): 51-69, doi: 10.5091/plecevo.84486
Seed morphology of Hamelieae with emphasis on the Deppea complex (Cinchonoideae, Rubiaceae)
expand article infoMaría Aguilar-Morales, Helga Ochoterena-Booth§, Teresa Terrazas|
‡ Posgrado en Ciencias Biológicas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, México, Mexico§ Instituto de Biología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, México, D.F., Mexico| Departamento de Botánica, Instituto de Biología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, México, Mexico
Open Access

Background and aims – The neotropical tribe Hamelieae currently includes 16 genera mainly characterized by raphides, ebracteolate inflorescences, and 4-merous flowers with contorted corolla aestivation. Within this tribe, the circumscription of Deppea has been particularly controversial, as depending on the authors, several morphologically closely related genera are either treated as synonyms or accepted as such. This generic group, hereafter referred to as the Deppea complex, consists of up to 10 genera. Within Rubiaceae, seed morphology has proved to have taxonomic value for generic circumscriptions, however, it remained unexplored for Hamelieae and the Deppea complex.
Material and methods – We present a detailed study of the seed morphology of 37 species representing 15 out of the 16 genera recognized within Hamelieae, including all putative genera of the Deppea complex. Using scanning electron and light microscopy, we investigate 16 quantitative and qualitative seed characters that could have taxonomic value.
Key results – Our results show that the combination of some seed characters, such as shape and colour, dorsiventral compression, hilum position, and the periclinal microrelief, helps to distinguish some genera and most species, supporting or refuting the current taxonomic circumscription.
Conclusion – We conclude that the seed morphology within Hamelieae has taxonomic value but should be combined with other characters to achieve unequivocal delineation of the genera.

Generic circumscription, LM, morphology, seed, SEM, systematics, testa