Phytochemistry 12(5): 1095-1101 (May 1973)
Phenolic compounds of the subfamily Pomoideae: A chemotaxonomic survey
James S. Challice

Abstract
The subfamily Pomoideae has been surveyed for leaf phenolics and it has been shown that flavone glycosides are present in the genera Sorbus, Aronia, Chaenomeles and Hesperomeles in addition to the previously reported occurrences in Crataegus, Malus and Pyrus. The dihydrochalcone phloridzin, a typical constituent of Malus, has also been found in Docynia. Arbutin and phenolic acid-calleryanin esters are apparently restricted to Pyrus. Naringenin and eriodictyol glucosides have been detected in Pyracantha, Sorbus, Photinia, Chaenomeles and Hesperomeles. A number of Pomoideae phenolics have been found in two Spiraeoideae genera; luteolin 7-glucoside, luteolin 7-diglucoside, luteolin 7-rhamnosylglucoside and apigenin 7-glucoside in Exochorda and the dihydrochalcone trilobatin in Sorbaria. The chemotaxonomic evidence is consistent with the hypothesis that the Pomoideae evolved through a process of allopolyploidy from primitive members of the Spiraeoideae and Prunoideae.


A review of the occurrence of all phenolics within the Rosaceae8 has shown that flavone glycosides are present in all four subfamilies, Pomoideae, Prunoideae, Spiraeoideae and Rosoideae. However, within the Rosoideae, flavones appear to be restricted to the genera Kerria,33 Rhodotypos34 and Neviusia35 all of which have a basic chromosome number of x = 9 rather than x = 7 as possessed by most other genera of the Rosoideae.36 Bate-Smith34,37 has found that within the Rosaceae, ellagic acid is restricted to the Rosoideae where it occurs in all tribes except the tribe Kerrieae (Kerria, Rhodotypos, Neviusia and Coleogyne). Whilst sorbitol has been found throughout the Pomoideae, Prunoideae and Spiraeoideae, in the Rosoideae this polyhydric alcohol is apparently restricted to the genera Kerria, Rhodotypos and Neviusia.38 Thus it would appear that on chemical grounds there is a case for transferring the tribe Kerrieae from the Rosoideae to the Spiraeoideae, as already suggested by some botanists. This fits in quite well with Gajewski’s hypothesis that the Prunoideae and Spiraeoideae represent distinct and primitive developmental lines of the Rosaceae and that the Rosoideae probably developed later from the Spiraeoideae.39,40 It is considered that for numerous tribes of the Rosoideae the original forms were trees or shrubs with a basic chromosome number of x = 9. Present-day Rosoideae genera having x = 9 could be regarded as relicts of the transitional forms between the Spiraeoideae and Rosoideae. The evidence reviewed here certainly does not favour Darlington’s hypothesis41 that the Pomoideae evolved through unequal reduplication of a basic set of 7 chromosomes (7 + 7 + 3 = 17) in a primitive member of the Rosoideae.

  1. CHALLICE, J. S. (1972) Ph.D. thesis, University of Bristol.
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  3. PLOUVIER, V. (1966) Compt. Rend. 263, 1529.
  4. DARLINGTON, C. D. and WYLIE, A. P. (1955) Chromosome Atlas of Flowering Plants, George Allen & Unwin, London.
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  6. PLOUVIER, V. (1963) in Chemical Plant Taxonomy (SWAIN, T., ed.), Chap. 11, Academic Press, London.
  7. GAJEWSKI, W. (1957) Monographiae Botanicae (Warsrawa) 4, l-416.
  8. GAJEWSKI, W. (1959) Evolution 13, 378.
  9. DARLINGTON, C. D. (1963) Chromosome Botany and the Origins of Cultivated Plants, 2nd Edn, George Allen & Unwin, London.

Chromosome Changes in Evolution and Adaptation