Laboratory of Plant Systematics


Frederic Lens

Wood evolution within asterids, with special emphasis on secondary derived woodiness



Research topics

My postdoc project, granted by the Fund for Scientific Research - Flanders (Belgium) (F.W.O.-Vlaanderen), deals with two central topics:

  • studying unusually variable evolutionary trends in the microscopic wood structure of asterids, a huge group including about 100.000 flowering plant species
  • investigating secondary derived woodiness, a condition in which woody species are derived from herbaceous ancestors, by linking specific (paedomorphic) wood characters to the genetic mechanism of wood formation in Arabidopsis thaliana and non-related species

    Several major gaps in the wood anatomical knowledge of asterids have been filled up by own data, such as Ericales, Gentianales and Icacinaceae, and a new hypothesis about the genetic background of secondary woodiness has been postulated in collaboration with dr. Melzer (VIB Department of Plant Systems Biology, Ghent University, Belgium).





Finally, I am involved in a joint project together with drs. David Rabaey (K.U.Leuven) and dr. Steven Jansen (Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew), focusing on pits in general, and variation of pit membrane thickenings in particular.

Marcgravia pedun1Pierrina zenk01

LM pictures:
Marcgravia pedunculosa (Marcgraviaceae): transverse section of a liana stem
Pierrina zenkeri (Lecythidaceae): transverse section of a small tree stem

Scytopet tieghT02

SEM pictures:
Scytopetalum tieghemii (Lecythidaceae): alternate vessel pits at the outside of a vessel wall
Marcgravia umbellata (Marcgraviaceae): coalescent vessel pits at the inside of a vessel wall