A Brief History of Seed Size

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Science  28 Jan 2005:
Vol. 307, Issue 5709, pp. 576-580
DOI: 10.1126/science.1104863

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Improved phylogenies and the accumulation of broad comparative data sets have opened the way for phylogenetic analyses to trace trait evolution in major groups of organisms. We arrayed seed mass data for 12,987 species on the seed plant phylogeny and show the history of seed size from the emergence of the angiosperms through to the present day. The largest single contributor to the present-day spread of seed mass was the divergence between angiosperms and gymnosperms, whereas the widest divergence was between Celastraceae and Parnassiaceae. Wide divergences in seed size were more often associated with divergences in growth form than with divergences in dispersal syndrome or latitude. Cross-species studies and evolutionary theory are consistent with this evidence that growth form and seed size evolve in a coordinated manner.

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