The banana and ginger group, order Zingiberales, is an exceptionally diverse group of primarily tropical plants. Within Zingiberales, the ginger family (Zingiberaceae) is unique in being not only the most species-rich but also the most disparate in terms of their morphology and anatomy, and the only group with a substantial number of species in temperate environments. In a recent study published in AoB PLANTS, Benedict et al. found that multiple radiations into temperate habitats were not driven by morphological change, but instead may be due to a genetic plasticity in the family that provided opportunities for speciation events not found anywhere else in the order. Indeed, the notable morphoanatomical variety in Zingiberaceae seeds may account for their extraordinary ecological success and high species diversity as compared to other Zingiberales.
Benedict, J. C., Smith, S. Y., Specht, C. D., Collinson, M. E., Leong-Škorničková, J., Parkinson, D. Y., & Marone, F. (2016). Species diversity driven by morphological and ecological disparity: a case study of comparative seed morphology and anatomy across a large monocot order. AoB Plants, 8, plw063. http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/aobpla/plw063
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