Mantled fungal reproductive units in land plant tissue from the Lower Devonian Rhynie chert

 

Authors: Krings M, Taylor TN

Published in: Bulletin of Geosciences, volume 90, issue 1; pages: 1 - 6; Received 26 May 2014; Accepted in revised form 6 October 2014; Online 25 November 2014

Keywords: biodiversity, fossil fungi, hyphal investment, reproductive biology,

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Abstract

Multiple specimens of a conspicuous fungal reproductive unit occur in land plant tissue preserved in the Lower Devonian Rhynie chert. The reproductive units consist of a walled sphere (up to 32 μm in diameter) borne terminally on a tubular hypha. Some 50% of specimens are enveloped in a prominent mantle constructed of thin-walled interlaced hyphae; hyphal tips are club-shaped. The clustered units are in turn embedded in a loose meshwork of thin-walled hyphae, some of which appear to have contributed in mantle formation. The systematic affinities of this reproductive unit remain unknown, however, it differs from all mantled fungal reproductive units previously described from the Rhynie chert. This discovery supports the hypothesis that multiple fungi existed in the Early Devonian that produced various types of hyphal mantles.

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