Journal of Plant Research

, Volume 130, Issue 2, pp 327–337 | Cite as

Flower structure and developmental stages of the capitulum of Smallanthus sonchifolius (Asteraceae): reproductive implications

  • M. S. IbañezEmail author
  • M. I. Mercado
  • M. V. Coll Aráoz
  • M. L. Zannier
  • A. Grau
  • G. I. Ponessa
Regular Paper


Yacon (Smallanthus sonchifolius, Asteraceae) is an ancient andean crop that has numerous dietary and medicinal properties. Morphological and anatomical features and developmental changes of the capitulum were studied. A ray floret is a pistillate, female flower, while a disc floret is a staminate male flower, and the former opens before the latter, being pseudanthium protogynous. The capitulum presents interesting attributes for pollinators such as flower structure, nectaries and pollenkitt. Gynoecial nectaries were found on undeveloped ovary in the disc floret, but not in the ray floret. Glandular trichomes were observed on the abaxial epidermis of corolla in the ray floret, but not in the disc floret. Capitulum development was divided into eight stages. Stigma receptivity varied with these stages. Pollen viability was low (15%). In accordance with low viability, pollen grains exhibit diverse sizes and shapes, reduction in length of spines, and abnormal protoplasm. Examination of ovary development in the ray floret showed that a mature ovule was formed, but fertilization did not occur. In advanced developmental stages, the capitulum showed proliferation of the endothelium, degeneration of the embryo sac, and all harvested cypselae had aborted seeds. Problems found in pollen viability and aborted cypselae could be the result of a history of vegetative propagation in the domestication process.


Anatomy Capitulum Morphology Reproductive organs Smallanthus sonchifolius Yacon 



The authors are thankful to Prof. PhD. Elsa Camadro for assistance in microsporogenesis analysis; and to Lab of genetics and Lab of Nematology of INTA Balcarce for providing necessary lab facilities during the work. This research was supported by ANPCyT (Grant PICTO 2004-503, PICT 2011-1871), CIUNT A26/403 and CONICET from Argentina.


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Copyright information

© The Botanical Society of Japan and Springer Japan 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. S. Ibañez
    • 1
    • 2
    • 6
    Email author
  • M. I. Mercado
    • 3
  • M. V. Coll Aráoz
    • 1
    • 4
    • 5
  • M. L. Zannier
    • 1
    • 2
  • A. Grau
    • 2
    • 5
  • G. I. Ponessa
    • 3
  1. 1.Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET)Buenos AiresArgentina
  2. 2.Facultad de Ciencias Naturales, Instituto de Ecología Regional (IER)Universidad Nacional de TucumánYerba BuenaArgentina
  3. 3.Instituto de Morfología VegetalFundación Miguel LilloSan Miguel de TucumánArgentina
  4. 4.PROIMI-Biotecnología CONICETSan Miguel de TucumánArgentina
  5. 5.Cátedra de Biología Vegetal, Facultad Ciencias Naturales e Instituto Miguel LilloUNTSan Miguel de TucumánArgentina
  6. 6.Inta BalcarceBuenos AiresArgentina

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