The Anther: Form, Function and Phylogeny. William G. D'Arcy and Richard C. Keating, eds. 351 pp. Cambridge University Press, 1996. $90.
The Anther: Form, Function and Phylogeny is a compilation of papers presented at a symposium on the flowering-plant anther held in 1993 during the International Botanical Congress in Yokohama, Japan. Although presenting seemingly unrelated papers clustered around the general topic of the anther, it is one of the most useful publications on this subject available today. Until now a scientist looking for a summary of anther structure, function and evolution would have had little success. Plant anatomy and morphology texts give only a basic introduction to anther structure. Papers on individual families or genera present anther structure in specific taxa and perhaps discuss it in relation to related taxa. Few papers present an overview of this important part of the plant. With this book, D'Arcy and Keating provide a strong starting place for the scientist who wants substantial data on the structure of the flowering plant anther.
D'Arcy's opening paper provides an introduction to anther structure and function and could serve as reading material for graduate students beginning research in this area. Similarly, Endress provides a useful overview of anther structure in the flowering plants, and Crepet and Nixon review the fossil history of the stamen, including the presentation of new data. Tucker's paper on stamen structure and development in legumes, with an emphasis on poricidal stamens of caesalpinioid tribe Cassieae, also summarizes stamen structure, but does so over such a restricted group of species that its interest will likely be restricted to legume systematists.
Three papers combine phylogenetic analysis and anther structure to investigate character-state evolution in the anther. D'Arcy, Keating and Buchmann investigate the occurrence, cost and function of calcium oxalate in the anthers of the Solanaceae and Ericales; Hufford investigates the early evolution of the stamen in the context of previously published phylogenetic analyses of the angiosperms; and Liede provides a critical analysis of androecial characters in the context of a phylogenetic analysis of the Asclepiadaceae.
Although Manning does not deal explicitly with phylogeny, his critical review and summary of wall-thickening patterns in the endothecium provides a sound basis for future analyses of endothecial patterns. This type of detailed character analysis is seen all too seldom in phylogenetic studies.
Burger, in the single theoretical paper, reviews the evidence for the homology of stamens and carpels and concludes that these two flower parts are not homologous.
Bernhardt explores structure and function in the anther of animal-pollinated species. Although restricted to only a few taxa, he provides a useful overview.
In the final two papers, Keating summarizes the methods available for studying the anther, and Lynch and Gregory offer a bibliography of stamen morphology and anatomy with 1,437 references. In spite of the fact that I found no citations more recent than 1991, the subject and systematic indexes at the end of the bibliography transform this otherwise pointless list of papers into a useful tool. As with many books that compile papers from conferences, the collection may seem disjointed. It will, however, satisfy readers who seek a supplement to the classic texts on morphology by providing a detailed survey of anther structure.—Bruce K. Kirchoff, Biology, University of North Carolina at Greensboro