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Renner, Matt A. M.; Engel, John J.; Patzak, Simon D. F.; Heinrichs, Jochen (2015): A new species of Brevianthus (Brevianthaceae, Marchantiophyta) from New Caledonia with unusual underleaf production. In: Phytokeys, Vol. 50: pp. 43-60


Brevianthus is a distinctive genus of leafy liverwort in its succubously inserted, entire leaves, lack of under-leaves, restriction of sexual organs to lateral-intercalary branches, scattered rhizoids and dense leaf-surface ornamentation. The sole species, Brevianthus flavus, is divided into two subspecies, one in Tasmania the other in New Zealand. A second species, Brevianthus hypocanthidium, is described as new and is the first record of the genus for New Caledonia. Among its distinguishing characters are its shallowly bilobed leaves, and triangular underleaves present on small to medium-sized shoot sectors, the lack of a hyaline leaf margin, and the crenulate leaf margin formed by heavily thickened external cell walls. The most unusual features of the new species are the presence of underleaves between lateral leaf insertion lines that reach the ventral stem mid-line, and the absence of underleaves from larger shoots. To explain these features we propose a competitive model of shoot formation wherein the ventral merophyte progressively loses vigor as its relative stature decreases, and its derivative cells become discontinuous and isolated along the ventral stem surface, with intervening areas occupied by derivatives of the more vigorous lateral merophytes.