An epiphytacean-Girvanella (Cyanobacteria) symbiosis from the Cambrian (Series 3, Drumian) of North Greenland (Laurentia)


Authors: Peel JS

Published in: Bulletin of Geosciences, volume 93, issue 3; pages: 327 - 336; Received 2 February 2018; Accepted in revised form 25 May 2018; Online 3 July 2018

Keywords: Cambrian, Drumian, Cyanobacteria, epiphytacean, symbiosis, North Greenland,

full text (PDF, 2 MB)

Export to RIS



The widespread Cambrian calcareous cyanobacterium Girvanella is described in symbiotic association with a new epiphytacean, Orpikania freucheni gen. et sp. nov. (Microproblematica), from the Ekspedition Bra Formation (Cambrian Series 3, Drumian Stage) of Freuchen Land, North Greenland. The phosphatized assemblages preserve dendrites of the epiphytacean forming a supporting framework for discrete climbing filaments of Girvanella lianiformis sp. nov. that are firmly attached to their host with holdfasts. Elevation of the slender Girvanella filaments on the framework of the dendrite potentially enhanced their phototactic movement towards the light. Filaments in the co-occurring Girvanella pituutaq sp. nov. are regularly twisted together into a rope-like form which may have assisted elevation above its substrate.


Adachi, N., Kotani, A., Ezaki, Y. & Liu, J. 2015. Cambrian Series 3 lithistid sponge-microbial reefs in Shandong Province, North China: reef development after the disappearance of archaeocyaths. Lethaia 48, 405-416.View article

Adams, D.G. 2000. Symbiotic interactions, 523-561. In Whitton, B.A. & Potts, M. (eds) The ecology of Cyanobacteria. Kluwer Academic Publishers, New York.

Adams, D.G., Duggan, P.S. & Jackson, O. 2012. Cyanobacterial symbioses, 594-647. In Whitton, B.A. (ed.) Ecology of Cyanobacteria II: their diversity in time and space. Springer, Dordrecht.

Babcock, L.E., Robison, R.A., Rees, M.N., Peng, S. & Saltzman, M.R. 2007. The global boundary stratotype section and point (GSSP) of the Drumian Stage (Cambrian) in the Drum Mountains, Utah, USA. Episodes 30, 84?94.

Bengtson, S., Conway Morris, S., Cooper, B.J., Jell, P.A. & Runnegar, B.N. 1990. Early Cambrian fossils from Australia. Memoir of the Australasian Association of Palaeontologists 9, 1-364.

Bengtson, S., Sallstedt, T., Belivanova, V. & Whitehouse, M. 2017. Three dimensional preservation of cellular and subcellular structures suggests 1.6 billion¬year¬old crowngroup red algae. PLOS Biology 15(3) e2000735, 1-38.View article

Bornemann, J.G. 1886. Die Versteinerungen des Cambrischen Schichten¬systems der Insel Sardinien nebst vergleichenden Untersuchungen über analogue Vorkommnisse aus andern Ländern. Nova Acta der Kaiserlichen Leopoldinisch-Carolinischen Deutschen Akademie der Naturforschung 51(1), 1-147.

Cunningham, J.A., Vargas, K., Liu, P., Belivanova, V., Marone, F., Martínez¬-Pérez, C., Guizar-¬Sicairos, M., Holler, M., Bengtson, S. & Donoghue, P.C.J. 2015. Critical appraisal of tubular putative eumetazoans from the Ediacaran Weng’an Doushantuo biota. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B 282, 1-9.View article

Cunningham, J.A., Vargas, K., Yin, Z., Bengtson, S. & Donoghue, P.C.J. 2017. The Weng’an Biota (Doushantuo Formation): an Ediacaran window on soft¬bodied and multicellular microorganisms. Journal of the Geological Society 174, 793-802.View article

Danielli, C.M. 1981. The fossil alga Girvanella Nicholson and Etheridge. Bulletin of the British Museum of Natural History, Geology Series 35(2), 1-107.

Demoulin, V. & Janssen, M.P. 1981. Relationship between diameter of the filament and cell shape in blue-green algae. British Phycological Journal 16, 55-58.View article

Drozdova, N.A. 1980. Vodorosli v organogennykh postrojkakh nizhnego Kembriya Zapadnoy Mongolii. Trudy Sovmestnoy Sovetsko-Mongolskoy Paleontologicheskoy Ekspeditsii 10, 1-140.

Gandin, A. & Debrenne, F. 2010. Distribution of the archaeocyath-¬calcimicrobial bioconstructions on the early Cambrian shelves. Palaeoworld 19, 222-241.View article

Geyer, G. & Peel, J.S. 2017. Middle Cambrian trilobites from the Ekspedition Bra Formation of North Greenland, with a reappraisal of the genus Elrathina. Journal of Paleontology 91, 265-293.View article

Grube, M., Seckbach, J. & Muggia, L. (eds) 2017. Algal and Cyanobacteria symbioses. 644 pp. World Scientific Europe, London.View article

Guiry, M.D. 2018. Epiphyton. In Guiry, M.D. & Guiry, G.M. (eds) AlgaeBase. Worldwide electronic publication, National University of Ireland, Galway. http://www.

Higgins, A.K., Ineson, J.R., Peel, J.S., Surlyk, F. & Sonderholm, M. 1991. Lower Palaeozoic Franklinian Basin of North Greenland. Gronlands Geologiske Undersogelse Bulletin 160, 71-139.

Ineson, J.R., & Peel, J.S. 1997. Cambrian shelf stratigraphy of North Greenland. Geology of Greenland Survey Bulletin 173, 1-120.

Knoll, A.H. 1992. Vendian microfossils in metasedimentary cherts of the Scotia Group, Prins Karls Forland, Svalbard. Palaeontology 35, 751-774.

Kobluk, D.R. & James, N.P. 1979. Cavity-¬dwelling organisms in Lower Cambrian patch reefs from southern Labrador. Lethaia 12, 193-218.View article

Korde, K.B. 1959. Morfologiya i sistematicheskoe polozhenie predstavitelei roda Epiphyton. Doklady Akademii Nauk SSSR 126, 1087-1089.

Korde, K.B. 1961. Vodorosli kembriya yugo¬vostoka Sibirskoy platformy. Akademija Nauk SSSR, Trudy Paleontologitscheskogo Instituta 89, 1-148.

Korde, K.B. 1973. Vodorosli Kembriya. Akademija Nauk SSSR, Trudy Paleontologitscheskogo Instituta 139, 1-349.

Liu, L., Wu, Y., Yang, H. & Riding, R. 2016. Ordovician calcified cyanobacteria and associated microfossils from the Tarim Basin, Northwest China: systematics and significance. Journal of Systematic Palaeontology 14, 183-210.View article

Liu, P., Xiao, S., Yin, C., Zhou, C., Gao, L. & Tang, F. 2008. Systematic description and phylogenetic affinity of tubular microfossils from the Ediacaran Doushantuo Formation at Weng’an, South China. Palaeontology 51, 339-366.View article

Luchinina, V.A. 1995. Calcibionta, 180-194. In Pospelov, A.G., Pelman, Yu.L., Zhuravleva, I.T., Luchinina, V.A., Kuznetsova, V.G., Esakova, N.V., Ermak, V.V. & Aksarina, N.A. 1995. Biostratigraphy of the Kiya River section. Annales de Paléontologie 81, 169-246.

Luchinina, V.A. & Terleev, A.A. 2008. The morphology of the genus Epiphyton Bornemann. Geologica Croatica 61, 105-111.View article

Luchinina, V.A. & Terleev, A.A. 2014. Features of Calcareous Algae Mineralization at the Transition to the Phanerozoic Biosphere. Paleontological Journal 48, 1450-1456. View article

Luchinina, V.A. & Tikhomirova, N.S. 1988. On new preservation forms of Early Cambrian algae and their ultrastructure, 112-114. In Dubatolov, V.N. & Moskalenko, T.A. (eds) Izvestkovye vodorosli i stromatolity: sistematika, biostratigrafya, fatsialnyj analiz: Sbornik nauchnykh trudov. 230 pp. Nauka, Novosibirsk.

Luo, H., Jiang, Z., Wu, X., Song, X., Ouyang, L. et al. 1982. The Sinian-Cambrian boundary in eastern Yunnan, China. 154 pp. Peoples’ Publishing House, Yunnan. [in Chinese]

Mamet, B. & Roux, A. 1975. Algues dévoniennes et carboniferes de la Téthys occidentale. Revue de Micropaléontologie 18, 134-187.

Mankiewicz, C. 1992a. Obruchevella in the Middle Cambrian Burgess Shale: preservation and taxonomic affinity. Journal of Paleontology 66, 717-729.View article

Mankiewicz, C. 1992b. Proterozoic and Early Cambrian Calcareous Algae, 981-998. In Schopf, J.W. & Klein, C. (eds) The Proterozoic biosphere. 1348 pp. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Maslov, V.P. 1956. Iskopaemye izvestkovye vodorosli SSSR. Akademija Nauk SSSR, Trudy Geologitscheskogo Instituta 160, 1-302.

McMenamin, M.A.S. 2016. Dynamic Paleontology. 251 pp. Springer Geology, Dordrecht.View article

Muscente, A.D., Hawkins, A. & Xiao, S. 2015. Fossil preservation through phosphatization and silicification in the Ediacaran Doushantuo Formation (South China): a comparative synthesis. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 434, 46-62.View article

Nicholson, H.A. & Etheridge Jr., R. 1878. A monograph of the Silurian fossils of the Girvan district of Ayrshire with special reference to those contained in the “Gray Collection”, vol. 1(1). 341 pp. Blackwood, Edinburgh. View article

Peel, J.S. 1988. Spirellus and related helically coiled microfossils (Cyanobacteria) from the Lower Cambrian of North Greenland. Rapport Gronlands Geologiske Undersogelse 137, 5-32.

Peel, J.S. 2014. Failed predation, commensalism and parasitism on lower Cambrian linguliformean brachiopods. Alcheringa 39, 149-163.View article

Peel, J.S. 2017. The oldest pelmatozoan encrusted hardground and holdfasts from Laurentia (Cambrian Series 2-3). GFF 139, 195-204.View article

Peel, J.S. & Streng, M. 2015. A new middle Cambrian bradoriid arthropod from Greenland and western Canada. Journal of Paleontology 89, 96-102.View article

Qian, Y. & Bengtson, S. 1989. Palaeontology and biostratigraphy of the Early Cambrian Meishucunian Stage in Yunnan Province, South China. Fossils and Strata 24, 1-156.

Riding, R. 1979. Devonian calcareous algae. Special Papers in Palaeontology 23, 141-144.

Riding, R. 1991. Cambrian calcareous cyanobacteria and algae, 305-334. In Riding, R. (ed.) Calcareous algae and stromatolites. Springer Verlag, Berlin. View article

Riding, R. & Voronova, L. 1982. Affinity of the Cambrian alga Tubomorphophyton and its significance for the Epiphytaceae. Palaeontology 25, 869-878.

Rowland, S.M. & Gangloff, R.A. 1988. Structure and paleoecology of lower Cambrian reefs. Palaios 3, 111-135.View article

Săsăran, E., Bucur, I.I., Pleş, G. & Riding, R. 2014. Late Jurassic Epiphyton¬like cyanobacteria: indicators of long-term episodic variation in marine bioinduced microbial calcification? Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 401, 122-131.View article

Schaffner, J.H. 1909. The classifcation of plants, IV. The Ohio Naturalist 9, 446-455.

Schopf, J.W. 2012. The fossil record of Cyanobacteria, 15-36. In Whitton, B.A. (ed.) Ecology of Cyanobacteria II. Their diversity in space and time. 760 pp. Springer, Dordrecht.

Schopf, J.W. & Klein, C. 1992. The Proterozoic biosphere. 1348 pp. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.View article

Singh, P. & Shukla, S.D. 1981. Fossils from the Lower Tal: their age and its bearing on the stratigraphy of the Lesser Himalaya. Geoscience Journal 2, 157-176.

Stanier, R.Y. 1974. Division I. The Cyanobacteria, 22. In Buchanan, R.E. & Gibbons, N.E. (eds) Bergey’s manual of determinative bacteriology. 8th edition. Williams & Wilkins, Baltimore.

Vinn, O. 2017. Early symbiotic interactions in the Cambrian. Palaios 32, 231-237.View article

Voronova, L.G 1976. Izvestkovye vodorosli pogranichnykh sloev dokembriya i kembriya Sibirskoj platformy, 3-85. In Voronova, L.G. & Radionova, E.P. (eds) Vodorosli i Mikrofitolity Paleozoya. Akademija Nauk SSSR, Trudy Geologitscheskogo Instituta 294.

Wang, H., Zhang, Z., Holmer, L.E., Hu, S., Wang, X., & Li, G. 2012. Peduncular attached secondary tiering acrotretoid brachiopods from the Chengjiang fauna: implications for the ecological expansion of brachiopods during the Cambrian explosion: Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 323, 60-67.View article

Wood, A. 1957. The type-¬species of the genus Girvanella (calcareous algae). Palaeontology 1, 22-28.

Wrona, R. 2004. Cambrian microfossils from glacial erratics of King George Island, Antarctica. Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 49, 13-56.

Zhuravlev, A.Yu., Gaméz Vintaned, J.A. & Ivantsov, A.Yu. 2011. Discussion of First fnds of problematic Ediacaran fossil Gaojiashania in Siberia and its origin. Geological Magazine 148, 329-333.View article