Open Access Honors Program Thesis

First Advisor

Julie Kang


Vitaceae is the grape family of flowering plants that is composed of twelve genera of woody plants (Jones et al., 2013). Vitis has been studied extensively for the commercial value of the fruit in the wine and grape production. However, not a lot of research has been done specifically on its basic biology such as leaf development within the family.

Understanding the basic biology of the plant can help with understanding its growth habit and help with improving the overall health of the plant. For example, analyzing flowers and leaves is a good way to draw inferences about developmental similarities and differences across species in the Vitaceae. Although there can be small variations in development between species and even between individual plants, observing them for the patterns in which they share, with those related to them, can be instrumental in solidifying their evolutionary history.

Through this research, I analyzed the morphology and development of Leea guineensis (Leeaceae) leaves and flowers. The results of this study will help in future research to compare Leea guineensis to two other basal Vitaceae species that belong to clade one; Rhoicissus digitata and Nekemias arborea. Understanding the results can also help to improve our ability to maintain the health of these species. Rhoicissus and Nekemias are the most basal of the Vitaceae, making them the prime subjects for comparison with Leeaceae due to a lack of derived characteristics that would draw them further from a shared ancestor (Gerrath et al., 2004).

Date of Award



Department of Biology

University Honors Designation

A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the designation University Honors

Date Original


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