Australian Journal of Botany Australian Journal of Botany Society
Southern hemisphere botanical ecosystems

Australian Journal of Botany

Australian Journal of Botany

Australian Journal of Botany is an international journal for the publication of original research and reviews in plant science with relevance to Southern Hemisphere ecosystems including ecology and ecophysiology, conservation biology and biodiversity, forest biology and management, cell and molecular biology, palaeobotany, reproductive biology and genetics, mycology and pathology and structure and development. Read more about the journalMore

Editor-in-Chief: Dick Williams

Current Issue

Australian Journal of Botany

Volume 64 Numbers 7 & 8 2016

RESEARCH FRONT: Fire in Australia

BT16169Deep history of wildfire in Australia

Robert S. Hill and Gregory J. Jordan
pp. 557-563

The hypothesis that long-term nutrient poverty in Australian soils led to intense fires explains many fire responses of Australian species, as does the near-global evidence for fire during the Cretaceous. The Neogene drying of Australia allowed the rise to dominance of some important components of the extant fire adapted taxa that originated in the Late Cretaceous, but were not prominent in the rainforest-dominated Palaeocene.

BT16109Cretaceous fire in Australia: a review with new geochemical evidence, and relevance to the rise of the angiosperms

Raymond J. Carpenter, Alexander I. Holman, Andrew D. Abell and Kliti Grice
pp. 564-578

Numerous Australian plants show fire-adapted traits that may have evolved in the Cretaceous. Fossil evidence of Cretaceous fires elsewhere on Earth has been much better known than in Australia, but we confirm that Cretaceous fire evidence does occur widely in Australia. Cretaceous burning reasonably influenced the evolution of modern Australian environments, with the most interesting evidence being the success of members of the Proteaceae family, lineages of which were important in burnt, open habitats at least 70 million years ago.

The extrapolation back in time of characters found in living species and populations to their common ancestor suggests that the eucalypts, and possibly the fire-adapted traits that now allow eucalypts to dominate sclerophyll forests and woodlands in Australia, had evolved ~65 million years ago. This is some 12 million years earlier than the oldest known eucalypt fossils. Our paper identifies reasons underlying this discrepancy and suggests ways this might be resolved.

BT16117Evolution of the eucalypts – an interpretation from the macrofossil record

Robert S. Hill, Yelarney K. Beer, Kathryn E. Hill, Elizabeth Maciunas, Myall A. Tarran and Carmine C. Wainman
pp. 600-608

Eucalypts dominate the Australian vegetation today and thrive in a high fire frequency environment. Their macrofossil record suggests they originated in the Weddellian Biogeographic Province, around the Cretaceous–Paleogene boundary, in an area with high natural fire frequency and some dry periods when flammable fuel could accumulate.

The Late Oligocene to Mid-Miocene brown coals of the Gippsland Basin in southern Victoria preserve a rich botanical suite of macro- and microfossils, sometimes associated with fusinite or fossil charcoal remains. Detailed pollen and macrofossil analyses have identified many plant taxa with affinities to modern genera and families that are associated with the charcoal deposits. The palaeobotanical and geological setting for the deposition of these ancient Tertiary peat mega-swamps is outlined against a background influence of fire in a mesothermal climate, with the likelihood of a pronounced seasonal influence.

How Aborigines shaped the Australian environment with fire has been fiercely contested by historians and ecologists. The present paper uses ecological theory, and historic archives to review and test our understanding of the role of Aboriginal burning in temperate grasslands. Fire-stick farming for the production of staple roots was likely instrumental in grassland formation and maintenance, and implies targeted management that affected the structure and function of temperate grassy ecosystems.

BT16105Whole-chloroplast analysis as an approach for fine-tuning the preservation of a highly charismatic but critically endangered species, Wollemia nobilis (Araucariaceae)

Abigail Greenfield, Hannah McPherson, Tony Auld, Sven Delaney, Catherine A. Offord, Marlien van der Merwe, Jia-Yee S. Yap and Maurizio Rossetto
pp. 654-658

The critically endangered Wollemi pine is the sole remnant of an ancient lineage with extremely low, and previously undetected, genetic variation. Advanced genomic techniques enabled the detection of genetic diversity at two sites. This information is critical for ex situ preservation of this charismatic species and highlights the simple application of new technologies to biodiversity conservation.

The spider orchids (Caladenia) of Australia comprise the largest single terrestrial orchid genus, with >300 species, however many are threatened in their natural habitats – including the grand spider orchid (C. huegelii). We report on development of successful tissue culture and cryopreservation protocols for off-site (ex situ) germplasm conservation.

BT16065Half-topping 'A4' macadamia trees has a markedly different effect on yield than full-topping

Trevor Olesen, David Robertson, Alister Janetzki and Tina Robertson
pp. 664-668

Tree height control is important in the management of macadamia orchards. Hedging the tops of the trees is quick and cheap, but brings with it a large yield penalty. We show that hedging only half the tops of the trees has much less of a yield penalty and restricts the regrowth.

BT15288Evaluation of Pseudoraphis spinescens (Poaceae) seed bank from Barmah Forest floodplain

Rebecca A. Durant, Daryl L. Nielsen and Keith A. Ward
pp. 669-677

Long-lived seed banks provide the ability for many plants to survive extended periods of drought. The failure of P. spinescens (a key wetland plant in Barmah Forest) to germinate post-drought was found to be implicated with the lack of a viable long-lived seed bank. For this species in this system, regeneration from stem fragments and rootstock may be more important than germination from seeds.

BT16049Promiscuous pollination of Australia’s baobab, the boab, Adansonia gregorii

Jordy Groffen, Gary Rethus and Jack Pettigrew
pp. 678-686

Australia’s native baobab, Adansonia gregorii, is the only baobab tree outside the African continent and is thought to be hawkmoth-pollinated. The aim was to identify major pollinators. The results of the current study show that the tree is mammal-pollinated, with the black flying fox (Pteropus alecto) as the main pollinator.

The rare Pilbara species Aluta quadrata is found in three geographically separated locations in the Hamersley Range, and a genetic study identified a moderate to high contemporary differentiation among locations, but low historical differentiation. The differences among locations suggest the use of local seed sources for augmentation or establishment of new populations, as may be required to manage impacts from mining operations.

BT15280Photosynthetic and anatomical responses of three plant species at two altitudinal levels in the Neotropical savannah

Vinícius Coelho Kuster, Silvana Aparecida Barbosa de Castro and Fernando Henrique Aguiar Vale
pp. 696-703

Three plants from Neotropical savannah were evaluated at two altitudinal areas, separated by 700 m. The leaf anatomy, the quantum yield of photosystem II, and the photosynthetic pigments were taken during the rainy season. High structural modifications and low physiological alterations were apparent, showing that the abiotic factors appear to modulate the plastic responses of plants across altitude.

BT16091Genetic and morphological analysis of multi-stemmed plants of tuart (Eucalyptus gomphocephala)

M. Byrne, A. Koenders, K. Rogerson, J. Sampson and E. J. B. van Etten
pp. 704-714

Investigation of genetic and morphological differentiation in tree and multi-stemmed forms of tuart (Eucalyptus gomphocephala) showed no genetic differentiation associated with growth habit, but there were some morphological differences in buds and fruits. The differences in growth habit in fragmented populations at the northern end of the distribution on the Swan Coastal Plain in Western Australia are likely to be due to environmental factors associated with harsh conditions.

BT12225_COCorrigendum to: New handbook for standardised measurement of plant functional traits worldwide

N. Pérez-Harguindeguy, S. Díaz, E. Garnier, S. Lavorel, H. Poorter, P. Jaureguiberry, M. S. Bret-Harte, W. K. Cornwell, J. M. Craine, D. E. Gurvich, C. Urcelay, E. J. Veneklaas, P. B. Reich, L. Poorter, I. J. Wright, P. Ray, L. Enrico, J. G. Pausas, A. C. de Vos, N. Buchmann, G. Funes, F. Quétier, J. G. Hodgson, K. Thompson, H. D. Morgan, H. ter Steege, L. Sack, B. Blonder, P. Poschlod, M. V. Vaieretti, G. Conti, A. C. Staver, S. Aquino and J. H. C. Cornelissen
pp. 715-716

Online Early

The peer-reviewed and edited version of record published online before inclusion in an issue

Published online 20 January 2017

BT16188Temporal vegetation changes in a seasonally dry tropical forest enclave in an ecotonal region between savanna and semiarid zones of Brazil

Geovany Heitor Reis, Marcela de Castro Nunes Santos Terra, David Yue Phin Tng, Deborah Mattos Guimaraes Apgaua, Polyanne Aparecida Coelho, Rubens Manoel dos Santos and Yule Roberta Ferreira Nunes

Seasonally dry tropical forests (SDTFs) make up a globally important biome for biodiversity conservation, and many such forests occur in poorly studied isolated ecological islands or enclaves. Understanding temporal change in these forests is important for their conservation, and in a SDTF enclave in Minas Gerais, Brazil, we found evidence of shifting vegetation dynamics within these forests. Our results highlight the need for longer term monitoring of enclave SDTF patches.

Published online 20 January 2017

BT16157Comparative anatomy of the assimilatory organs of Nepenthes species

Olusegun O. Osunkoya and Nurul Amal Muntassir

The relationships between anatomy and physico-chemical properties of plant assimilatory organs (e.g. leaves) have been rarely considered, particularly so in carnivorous plants. The study was on five Nepenthes species, focussing on comparative anatomy of their leaves and conjoint pitchers, as well as on linkages of their tissue dimensions with organ life span and chemistry. The leaf stomata (for photosynthesis) and pitcher-wall glands (for digestive product transfer), despite differences in structure and function, are similar in epidermal origin and in their density–size relationships.

As parasitic plants, mistletoes are functionally adapted to use host resources for their own growth and reproduction. As a response to mistletoe infection, infected branches produce leaves with morpho-physiological traits that allow higher resource conservation.

Published online 23 December 2016

BT16148A genetic, demographic and habitat evaluation of an endangered ephemeral species Xerothamnella herbacea from Australia

Alison Shapcott, Robert W. Lamont, Gabriel Conroy, Heather E. James and Yoko Shimizu-Kimura

Xerothamnella herbacea is an endangered herbaceous species from the Brigalow Belt impacted by gas pipeline developments. Most populations consisted of less than 100 plants with moderate to low genetic diversity and inbred. Geographic proximity does not predict genetic similarity of populations and diversity is not correlated with population size.

Published online 23 December 2016

BT16184Structural and phytochemical investigation of the leaves of Ricinus communis

S. Mamoucha, N. Tsafantakis, N. Fokialakis and N. S. Christodoulakis

The highly toxic species of Ricinus communis L., was investigated for leaf anatomy, histochemistry and composition of secondary metabolites. Leaves of simple structure with numerous idioblasts and strong positive reaction to histochemical reagents for terpenes, flavonoids, phenolics and alkaloids. Among the secondary metabolites detected is the highly toxic alkaloid ricinine.

Published online 12 December 2016

BT16154Leaf and culm silicification of Pampas grass (Cortaderia selloana) developed on different soils from Pampean region, Argentina

Mariana Fernández Honaine, Natalia L. Borrelli, Margarita Osterrieth and Luis del Rio

Here we analysed the relation between the accumulation of silica-made particles and environmental and biological factors, a relation scarcely known in pampean grasses. Grasses, along with other plants, produce glass-like particles in their tissues which have multiple functions during plant growth and development. Understanding the factors affecting silica accumulation in plants has implications for managing agroecosystems and Si-requiring crops such as rice.

Published online 12 December 2016

BT16155Germination ecology of six species of Eucalyptus in shrink–swell vertosols: moisture, seed depth and seed size limit seedling emergence

Lorena Ruiz Talonia, Nick Reid, Caroline L. Gross and R. D. B. Whalley

Six Eucalyptus species with diverse seed sizes were sown in vertosol soils in a glasshouse to investigate the influence of sowing depth and three soil-moisture scenarios on seedling emergence. All species had greater emergence when sown superficially but responded differently to the watering treatments. Seed size had little effect.

Arillastrum gummiferum (Myrtaceae) and Nothofagus aequilateralis (Nothofagaceae) are two tree species known to dominate the upper canopy of some rainforests on ultramafic substrates in New Caledonia. Structure, diversity and composition of these forests were investigated to better understand the ecological mechanisms leading to their monodominance.

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  1. New handbook for standardised measurement of plant functional traits worldwide

    Australian Journal of Botany 61 (3)
    N. Pérez-Harguindeguy, S. Díaz, E. Garnier, S. Lavorel, H. Poorter, P. Jaureguiberry, M. S. Bret-Harte, W. K. Cornwell, J. M. Craine, D. E. Gurvich, C. Urcelay, E. J. Veneklaas, P. B. Reich, L. Poorter, I. J. Wright, P. Ray, L. Enrico, J. G. Pausas, A. C. de Vos, N. Buchmann, G. Funes, F. Quétier, J. G. Hodgson, K. Thompson, H. D. Morgan, H. ter Steege, L. Sack, B. Blonder, P. Poschlod, M. V. Vaieretti, G. Conti, A. C. Staver, S. Aquino, J. H. C. Cornelissen

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