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Abstract Detail

The rise and fall of photosynthate: Evolution of plant/fungus interactions from paleobotanical and phylogenomic perspectives

Strullu-Derrien, Christine [1], Kenrick, Paul [2].

Fossil evidence of fungal-plant interactions in early terrestrial environments.

Fungi were of key importance to the early evolution of life on land, yet direct fossil evidence of plant fungal interactions and diversity is still limited. Fossil evidence of fungi-like microorganisms (oomycetes) is rarer, and where fossils have been documented their affinities are difficult to establish. We are investigating the evolution of these relationships through re-examination of historic slide collections of petrified plants and through the analysis of new materials, focussing on the Devonian and Carboniferous Periods. One key aim is to understand the contribution of plant-fungal and fungal-like relations to early terrestrial ecosystems and early forest ecosystems. Our general approach is therefore to compare and contrast the nature of these relations in pre- and post-arborescence ecosystems. One of the few well-studied early fossil fungi sites is the Lower Devonian (ca 407 Ma) Rhynie Chert (Scotland, UK), which preserves in exquisite detail the remains of an early terrestrial herbaceous biota. Documented fungi include species assignable to Chytridiomycota, Blastocladiomycota, Glomeromycota, Ascomycota and most recently Mucoromycotina. The oldest oomycete also comes from this site. To date three groups of fossil vascular plants (lycophytes, ferns and seed ferns) are known to host oomycetes and only one form from the Carboniferous (ca 300 Ma) has been identified as a parasite. We are using a suite of methods, including Confocal Laser Scanning Microscopy, to further explore fungal and oomycete diversity. We will provide an overview of fungal/fungal-like diversity and interactions with plants in early terrestrial ecosystems, and early forests including results of our recent research from the Rhynie Chert (documenting mutualistic and parasitic relationships) and from the late Middle Devonian of China.

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1 - The Natural History Museum, Department of Earth Sciences, Cromwell Road, London, N/A, SW7 5BD, UK
2 - The Natural History Museum, Department of Earth Sciences, Cromwell Road, London, SW7 5BD, UK

plant interactions
Early forests.

Presentation Type: Symposium Presentation
Session: SY12
Location: Hall A/The Shaw Conference Centre
Date: Tuesday, July 28th, 2015
Time: 4:15 PM
Number: SY12007
Abstract ID:883
Candidate for Awards:None

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