289 (5486): 1920-1921
Glomalean Fungi from the Ordovician
Linda E. Graham2
Department of Plant and Microbial Biology, 321 Koshland Hall,
University of California, Berkeley, California, 94720, USA
Department of Botany, University of
Wisconsin, Madison, WI 53706, USA
Fossilized fungal hyphae and spores from the Ordovician of
Wisconsin (with an age of about 460 million years) strongly
resemble modern arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (Glomales, Zygomycetes).
These fossils indicate
that Glomales-like fungi were present at a time when
the land flora most likely only consisted of plants on the bryophytic
level. Thus, these fungi may have played a crucial role in facilitating
the colonization of land by plants, and the fossils support molecular
estimates of fungal phylogeny that place the origin of the major groups
of terrestrial fungi (Ascomycota, Basidiomycota, and Glomales) around
600 million years ago.
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