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Piecing together the eophytes - a new group of ancient plants containing cryptospores

Edwards, Dianne ORCID:, Morris, Jennifer L. ORCID:, Axe, Lindsey, Duckett, Jeffrey G., Pressel, Silvia and Kenrick, Paul 2022. Piecing together the eophytes - a new group of ancient plants containing cryptospores. New Phytologist 233 (3) , pp. 1440-1455. 10.1111/nph.17703

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The earliest evidence for land plants comes from dispersed cryptospores from the Ordovician, which dominated assemblages for 60 million years. Direct evidence of their parent plants comes from minute fossils in Welsh Borderland Upper Silurian to Lower Devonian rocks. We recognize a group that had forking, striated axes with rare stomata terminating in valvate sporangia containing permanent cryptospores, but their anatomy was unknown especially regarding conducting tissues. Charcoalified fossils extracted from the rock using HF were selected from macerates and observed using scanning electron microscopy. Promising examples were split for further examination and compared with electron micrographs of the anatomy of extant bryophytes. Fertile fossil axes possess central elongate cells with thick walls bearing globules, occasional strands and plasmodesmata-sized pores. The anatomy of these cells best matches desiccation-tolerant food-conducting cells (leptoids) of bryophytes. Together with thick-walled epidermal cells and extremely small size, these features suggest that these plants were poikilohydric. Our new data on conducting cells confirms a combination of characters that distinguish the permanent cryptospore-producers from bryophytes and tracheophytes. We therefore propose the erection of a new group, here named the Eophytidae (eophytes).

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Earth and Environmental Sciences
Publisher: Wiley
ISSN: 0028-646X
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 25 May 2023
Date of Acceptance: 18 August 2021
Last Modified: 26 May 2023 06:25

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