289 (5486): 1920-1921

Glomalean Fungi from the Ordovician

D. Redecker1, Robin Kodner2, Linda E. Graham2

1 Department of Plant and Microbial Biology, 321 Koshland Hall, University of California, Berkeley, California, 94720, USA

2 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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