POLYCHROMATIC BOTANY // Variation of the floral color of Mirabilis Jalapa

in #steemstemlast year (edited)
In this opportunity, I will share with the entire academic community of the social network Steem, scientific-technical information on POLYCHROMATIC BOTANY, in particular on floral coloration mediated by genetic interactions, making use of the color variation exhibited by the floral units of the ornamental species Maravilla Mirabilis jalapa (NYCTAGINACEAE).


Although the coloration polymorphism exhibited by both vegetative and reproductive structures in plant species is basically due to the physiological reactions experienced by certain pigments at the cellular level, it is important to mention that this biological behavior is genetically determined by hereditary traits [3].

Therefore, the genetic characteristics of phenotypic nature, expressed by plant species, is nothing more than the hereditary influence of dominant individuals. However, the floral phenotypic responses are also usually associated with evolutionary elements mediated by natural selection, where plants execute polychromatic morphological modifications, in search of adapting to the preferences of their pollinating agents [4].

Hence, the objective of the post is to socialize the color variation exhibited by the flowers of Mirabilis jalapa, as an exploratory instrument to elucidate the genetic manifestation and reproductive strategy of this ornamental phytorecourse.

Polychromatic botany

The polychromatism of floral colouring observed in plant species has been catalogued as a complex network of multiple interactions between the genotype and the environment [1], whose definitive manifestation is nothing more than the biological control exercised by a complex group of regulating genes, essentially responsible for encoding the enzymes involved in the synthesis of anthocyanin coloured pigments and other biomolecules capable of capturing sunlight and transforming it into chemical energy.

This enzymatic coding involved in the synthesis of pigments is the product of the inheritance associated with the alleles contributed by the male and female gametes. Consequently, the variability of floral colouring shown by the progenies is the result of the crossing between parents with different colours.

Fig. 1 Polymorphism of floral coloration in Mirabilis jalapa (NYCTAGINACEAE). Author: @lupafilotaxia.

Polymorphism of floral colouring

The various ranges of coloration that express the reproductive structures depend on the components that transport the biomolecules, among which can be mentioned; specific co-pigments, metallic ions, variation of the vacuolar pH, cellular morphology, among others [1].

Polymorphism of hereditary coloration

The manifestation of the floral color of hereditary base, comes mediated by the dominance of some of the parental individuals, this according to the scientific bases schematized in the variations of the Mendeliana inheritance, aspect sufficiently contradictory with the inheritance of the floral color shown phenotypically by species like Mirabilis jalapa, in whose progenies an incomplete or intermediate dominance is observed, not being expressed a dominance of a specific color in the first generation, being determined in each resulting variety an intermediate color between their progenitors [6] .

Flower units as polychromatic structures

It is called floral unit, each organographic element with defined growth, independently that from the biological expresses a vegetative or reproductive behavior, within these structures of modified aspect are the sepals and petals, that come to be sterile units of striking colors whose main function consists in attracting the pollinating agents.

Fig. 2 On the left is a floral apex of Mirabilis jalapa (NYCTAGINACEAE), on the right are white/red bicromatic flowers. Author: @lupafilotaxia.

Fig. 3 Mirabilis jalapa (NYCTAGINACEAE) has a floral apex on the left, white/pink/yellow trichromatic flowers on the right. Author: @lupafilotaxia.

As it has been indicated in the previous paragraphs, the floral color shown by the vegetable species is the result of the dominance of some of its parents, hence the sepals and petals exhibit a considerable range of colors as phenotypic manifestation determined by hereditary elements, plus the combination of edaphoclimatic factors.

Fig. 4 Mirabilis jalapa (NYCTAGINACEAE) has a floral apex on the left, pink/red bicromatic flowers on the right. Author: @lupafilotaxia.

Fig. 5 On the left is a floral apex of Mirabilis jalapa (NYCTAGINACEAE), on the right trichromatic pink/white/yellow flowers. Author: @lupafilotaxia.

Polychromatic field study

Species and area of study

In order to socialize some answers of hereditary and polychromatic character that show the vegetables, I will socialize with all of you a study on the variation of the color that exhibit the flowers of the species Mirabilis jalapa (Nyctaginaceae) commonly known as Maravilla, the area of study corresponds to the ornamental spaces of the Library of the UNESUR, university institution located in Santa Bárbara de Zulia - Venezuela.

Methodological approach

In order to be able to relate the hereditary dominance exerted by the parents on the progenies, polychromatic observations were made in floral structures of Maravilla Mirabilis jalapa, the descriptive analyses consisted in estimating the predominance and intensity of floral coloration and the biomass of the polychromatic laminae with respect to the photosynthetically active.

Polychromatic results

Predominance of floral coloration

As opposed to the principles of Mendel's first law, no dominance of a specific color was found in the floral units, on the contrary, a mosaic of colors was observed in the evaluated materials of Mirabilis jalapa, this indicates that there is no polychromatic pattern that can be associated with a particular parental, according to [6], there is a probability that this phenotypic manifestation is due to regions or cells with different DNA in the same specimen, a highly linked element, some type of somatic mutation, a position related to inheritance without dominance, intermediate inheritance or co-dominance posed by [2] .

Fig. 6 Bichromatic white/red petals of Mirabilis jalapa (NYCTAGINACEAE). Author: @lupafilotaxia.

Intensity of floral coloration

As for the intensity of coloration, more than one intense and bright color was found in the same floral unit, being able to determine bicromatic (white/red and pink/red) and trichromatic (white/pink/yellow and pink/white/yellow) structures, this atypical biological expression from the genetic point of view, can be related as a manifestation by variegation, or what is the same, different coloration in certain regions of the same organographic element [5] .

Fig. 7 White/pink/yellow trichromatic petals of Mirabilis jalapa (NYCTAGINACEAE). Author: @lupafilotaxia.

Biomass of polychromatic sheets

According to the phenological age of the Mirabilis jalapa specimens, considered for the polychromatic field study, there were no differences in photosynthetically active foliar biomass, a biological response that may be related to incomplete or intermediate parental dominance.

Fig. 8 Bichromatic pink/red petals of Mirabilis jalapa (NYCTAGINACEAE). Author: @lupafilotaxia.

Fig. 9 Trichromatic pink/white/yellow petals of Mirabilis jalapa (NYCTAGINACEAE). Author: @lupafilotaxia.


  • The content of the post, is oriented to socialize one of the essential objectives of biology, as it is, the understanding of phenotypic variations and floral polychromatic manifestations, which take place in the progenies of plant species of parental character, whose morphological behaviors are mediated by the interactions between the genotype and the edafoclimatic conditions, where the hereditary character is attributed to the greater preponderance over the definitive color expressed, so, the article seeks to share with the entire academic community of the social network Steem, results collected at the field level, in order to indicate the polychromatic variation exhibited by the floral units of the ornamental species Mirabilis jalapa, through incomplete or intermediate dominance of their parents, whose specimens show a mosaic of colors in the petals, specifically bicromatic profile (pink / red) and trichromatic (white / red / yellow, white / pink / yellow and pink / white / yellow / yellow) and specimens show a mosaic of colors in the petals (white / red / yellow), white / pink / pink / white / yellow). Therefore, the aspects determined in the post, offer descriptive information for future investigations where variables can be valued as for example; reproductive efficiency of the different varieties of M. jalapa.


[1] Anaya J. Patrón molecular de la variación de color de sépalos en hortensias (Hydrangea macrophylla (Thunb.) Ser.) bajo tratamiento con diferentes niveles de pH. Tesis para optar al título de Lcdo. en Bilogía. Universidad de Guadalajara. Centro Universitario de Ciencias Biológicas y Agropecuarias. 2014;49.

[2] Correns C. Über Bastardierungsversuche mit Mirabilissippen. Ber. d. Dtsch. Bot. Ges.1902;20:594-608.

[3] Clegg M., and Durbin M. Flower color variation: A model for the experimental study of evolution. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences PNAS. 2000;97;13:7016–7023.

[4] Darwin C. El origen de las especies. Non-Fiction, Essay, Science. 1859. Artículo traducido al español por: Antonio de Zulueta. 463.

[5] Engels J., Van Kester W., Spitters C., Vosselman L., and Zeven A. Investigations of the inheritance of flower variegation in Mirabilis jalapa L. 1. General introduction and 2. Inheritance of colour in uniformly coloures flowers. Euphytica. 1975;25:1-5.

[6] López J. La genética del ‘color’ en las flores del dondiego de noche (Mirabilis jalapa L.). Instituto de Historia, Centro de Ciencias Humanas y Sociales, CSIC. Verano. 2013;6:143:35-40.

[7] Marryat D. Hybridization experiments with Mirabilis jalapa. Reports to the Evolution Committee of the Royal Society of London. 1909;5:32-50.

[8] Tanaka Y., Sasaki N., and Ohmiya A. Biosynthesis of Plant pigments: anthocyanins, betalains and carotenoids. The Plant Journal. 2008;54: 733–749.

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