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Title: Identification of conifer families using SEM analysis of fossil and extant conifer leaf cuticles
Author: Ewin, Timothy Alfred
ISNI:       0000 0001 3455 5731
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2004
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The cuticles of 58 extant conifer species are examined using scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and described in detail for the first time. The chosen species include representatives of all extant conifer families and also coincide with the species used in various recent genetic conifer phylogenies. A detailed phylogeny of the Coniferales has been compiled by the amalgamation of published genetic phylogenies. Sixty nine cuticle characteristics are identified and scored a numerical system, similar to numerical analyses by Alvin et al (1982). The character scores are plotted onto the Conifer phylogeny using the computer program MacClade 3.04 which is also used to display visually the distribution of each cuticle character. This allows the distribution of the characters to be examined easily, over the entire conifer phylogeny, and thus for groups of characters shared between species from the same family to be recognised. The cuticle characters of 38 other extant conifer species are taken from published accounts, scored and plotted onto the phylogeny by the same method. Lists of diagnostic cuticle characters for each conifer family are presented. The six modern conifer families are differentiated using leaf and cuticle characteristics alone. The cuticle characters indicative of the extant conifer families have been identified in the cuticles of several Mesozoic conifers previously assigned to modern conifer families on the basis of reproductive organs. Most of the descriptions of these fossil species are taken from published literature, with a further 18 fossil species examined by SEM for the first time. It is demonstrated that fossil cuticles display the same cuticle and leaf characteristics as the extant forms and can be assigned to modern families on this basis. Thus the assignment of some fossil species to modern genera or supra generic groups can be questioned using evidence from cuticles. Well-presented conifer cuticles of previously unknown affinity can be confidently or tentatively placed within modern families.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available