Plant Systematics and Evolution

, Volume 281, Issue 1–4, pp 77–86

Identifying a mysterious aquatic fern gametophyte

Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s00606-009-0188-2

Cite this article as:
Li, FW., Tan, B.C., Buchbender, V. et al. Plant Syst Evol (2009) 281: 77. doi:10.1007/s00606-009-0188-2


Süßwassertang, a popular aquatic plant that is sold worldwide in aquarium markets, has been long considered a liverwort because of its ribbon-like thallus. However, its antheridia are remarkably fern-like in morphology. To corroborate the hypothesis that Süßwassertang is a fern gametophyte and to determine its closest relative, we have sequenced five chloroplast regions (rbcL, accD, rps4trnS, trnL intron, and trnL-F intergenic spacer), applying a DNA-based identification approach. The BLAST results on all regions revealed that Süßwassertang is a polypod fern (order: Polypodiales) with strong affinities to the Lomariopsidaceae. Our phylogenetic analyses further showed that Süßwassertang is nested within the hemi-epiphytic fern genus Lomariopsis (Lomariopsidaceae) and aligned very close to L. lineata. Our study brings new insights on the unexpected biology of Lomariopsis gametophytes—the capacity of retaining a prolonged gametophytic stage under water. It is of great interest to discover that a fern usually known to grow on trees also has gametophytes that thrive in water.


Aquarium DNA barcoding DNA-based identification Gametophyte Fern Lomariopsis Lomariopsidaceae 

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Life ScienceNational Taiwan UniversityTaipeiTaiwan
  2. 2.The HerbariumSingapore Botanic GardensSingaporeSingapore
  3. 3.Plant Phylogenetics and Phylogenomics Group, Institute of BotanyDresden University of TechnologyDresdenGermany
  4. 4.The New York Botanical GardenBronx, New YorkUSA
  5. 5.Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, UMR 7205Herbier NationalParisFrance
  6. 6.Institute of Ecology and Evolutionary BiologyNational Taiwan UniversityTaipeiTaiwan
  7. 7.Nees Institute for Biodiversity of PlantsUniversity of BonnBonnGermany

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