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ISRN Botany
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 103892, 15 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.5402/2012/103892
Review Article

Highlights in Seagrasses’ Phylogeny, Physiology, and Metabolism: What Makes Them Special?

Institute of Botany, Leibniz University Hannover, Herrenhäuser Straße 2, 30419 Hannover, Germany

Received 1 October 2012; Accepted 20 November 2012

Academic Editors: M. Kwaaitaal and I. Zarra

Copyright © 2012 Jutta Papenbrock. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

The marine seagrasses form an ecological and therefore paraphyletic group of marine hydrophilus angiosperms which evolved three to four times from land plants towards an aquatic and marine existence. Their taxonomy is not yet solved on the species level and below due to their reduced morphology. So far also molecular data did not completely solve the phylogenetic relationships. Thus, this group challenges a new definition for what a species is. Also their physiology is not well understood due to difficult experimental in situ and in vitro conditions. There remain several open questions concerning how seagrasses adapted secondarily to the marine environment. Here probably exciting adaptation solutions will be detected. Physiological adaptations seem to be more important than morphological ones. Seagrasses contain several compounds in their secondary metabolism in which they differ from terrestrial plants and also not known from other taxonomic groups. Some of these compounds might be of interest for commercial purposes. Therefore their metabolite contents constitute another treasure of the ocean. This paper gives an introduction into some of the most interesting aspects from phylogenetical, physiological, and metabolic points of view.