Evolutionary Patterns and Processes in the Desert-Adapted Fern Genus Myriopteris (Pteridaceae)
This dissertation investigates the processes of hybridation, polyploidy, and apomixis and their roles in the evolution of myriopterid ferns. First, I examine patterns of hybridization in members of the Cheilanthes yavapensis complex using a suite of techiniques, ranging from molecules to morphology--including isozymes, spore measurements, and molecular phylogenetics based on chloroplast and nuclear DNA markers--to elucidate relationships in this notorious group of ferns. Second, I utilize the rules of traditional taxonomy set by the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature to recircucmscribe and resurrect the genus Myriopteris from within cheilanthoid ferns. This revised classification is bolstered by results from my molecular phylogenetic analysis of DNA sequence data in the subsequent chapter. Then, using morphological and cytological analyses, I examine the evolution of indument, leaf and rachis shape, vernation, chromosome number, and reproductive mode across the myriopterid tree. In my concluding chapter I develop microsatellite markers for the apomictic triploid, M. lindheiemeri, and explore whether premeiotic chromosome duplication facilitates the production of genetically distinct offspring in this otherwise asexual lineage.
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