|Scooped by Andres Zurita|
Background Inflorescences are complex structures with many functions. At anthesis they present the flowers in ways that allow for the transfer of pollen and optimization of the plant's reproductive success. During flower and fruit development they provide nutrients to the developing flowers and fruits. At fruit maturity they support the fruits prior to dispersal, and facilitate effective fruit and seed dispersal. From a structural point of view, inflorescences have played important roles in systematic and phylogenetic studies. As functional units they facilitate reproduction, and are largely shaped by natural selection.
Scope The papers in this Special Issue bridge the gap between structural and functional approaches to inflorescence evolution. They include a literature review of inflorescence function, an experimental study of inflorescences as essential contributors to the display of flowers, and two papers that present new methods and concepts for understanding inflorescence diversity and for dealing with terminological problems. The transient model of inflorescence development is evaluated in an ontogenetic study, and partially supported. Four papers present morphological and ontogenetic studies of inflorescence development in monophyletic groups, and two of these evaluate the usefulness of Hofmeister's Rule and inhibitory fields to predict inflorescence structure. In the final two papers, Bayesian and Monte-Carlo methods are used to elucidate inflorescence evolution in the Panicoid grasses, and a candidate gene approach is used in an attempt to understand the evolutionary genetics of inflorescence evolution in the genus Cornus (Cornaceae). Taken as a whole, the papers in this issue provide a glimpse of contemporary approaches to the study of the structure, development, and evolution of inflorescences, and suggest fruitful new directions for research.