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Anatomically preserved Silurian 'nematophytes' from the Welsh Borderland (UK)

Edwards, Dianne, Honegger, Rosmarie, Axe, Lindsey and Morris, Jennifer L 2018. Anatomically preserved Silurian 'nematophytes' from the Welsh Borderland (UK). Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 187 (2) , pp. 272-291. 10.1093/botlinnean/boy022

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Abstract

Stratified charcoalified fragments of thalloid organisms with tripartite tissue construction have been isolated from the basal member of the Upper Silurian (upper Ludlow) Downton Castle Sandstone Formation, exposed near Ludlow, Shropshire (England) and are considered to have had fungal affinity. They are divided into two major groups. The more novel of these is characterized by a superficial cortex separated from a basal layer of interweaving hyphae by an intermediate zone of compressed indeterminate tissue and members are placed in a new taxon, Tristratothallus ludfordensis. In the second, the intermediate zone comprises hyphae arranged at right angles to the cortex (termed palisade). Some members resemble the tissue construction of Nematothallus described from the Lower Devonian (Lochkovian) of the Welsh Borderland and considered to belong to fungi, some of which were lichenized. A further type, which shows remains of polysporic asci, is thought to represent a fragment of an apothecium (a disc-shaped ascoma of an ascomycete) of a pezizomycete and is the earliest such record. Yet others are characterized by a perforate cortex with occasional protruding hyphae, tissue construction of which was also recorded in the Lower Devonian of the Welsh Borderland and considered to display fungal characteristics. Coalified ‘black patches’ are common on bedding surfaces throughout the latest Silurian and Early Devonian and frequently are associated with basal embryophytes and tracheophytes. Those reported here are the oldest known with three-dimensional organization, studied via scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and attributed to fungi, and include some ascomycetes. Similar encrustations occur in even earlier rocks and may have been important constituents of the cryptogamic ground cover, which is postulated to have preceded higher plant life on land.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Earth and Ocean Sciences
Publisher: Linnean Society of London
ISSN: 0024-4074
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 20 August 2018
Date of Acceptance: 30 March 2018
Last Modified: 28 Jun 2019 19:19
URI: http://orca.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/114269

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