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The earliest records of internally stratified cyanobacterial and algal lichens from the Lower Devonian of the Welsh Borderland

Honegger, Rosmarie, Edwards, Dianne and Axe, Lindsey 2013. The earliest records of internally stratified cyanobacterial and algal lichens from the Lower Devonian of the Welsh Borderland. New Phytologist 197 (1) , pp. 264-275. 10.1111/nph.12009

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Summary Lichenization is assumed to be a very ancient mode of fungal nutrition, but fossil records are rare. Here we describe two fragments of exceptionally preserved, probably charred, lichen thalli with internal stratification. Cyanolichenomycites devonicus has a cyanobacterial and Chlorolichenomycites salopensis a unicellular, presumably green algal photobiont. Fruiting bodies are missing. Cyanolichenomycites devonicus forms asexual spores in a pycnidium. All specimens were examined with scanning electron microscopy techniques. The fossils were extracted by maceration. Extant lichens and free-living cyanobacteria were either experimentally charcoalified for comparison or conventionally prepared. Based on their septate hyphal structure, both specimens are tentatively interpreted as representatives of the Pezizomycotina (Ascomycota). Their presence in 415 million yr (Myr) old rocks from the Welsh Borderland predates existing Late Cretaceous records of pycnidial conidiomata by some 325 Myr and Triassic records of lichens with broadly similar organization by some 195 Myr. These fossils represent the oldest known record of lichens with symbionts and anatomy as typically found in morphologically advanced taxa today. The latter does not apply to Winfrenatia reticulata, the enigmatic crustose lichen fossil from the Lower Devonian, nor to presumed lichen-like organisms such as the Cambrian Farghera robusta or to the Lower Devonian Spongiophyton minutissimum.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Earth and Ocean Sciences
Subjects: Q Science > QH Natural history > QH301 Biology
Uncontrolled Keywords: charcoalification; Chlorolichenomycites salopensis; Cyanolichenomycites devonicus; fossil lichen; fossil Nostoc; heteromerous lichen; Lochkovian strata; pycnidial conidioma
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell
ISSN: 0028-646X
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2017 04:40

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