Written by sciencedaily.com Wednesday, 03 November 2010 20:34
New research by scientists at the University of Sheffield has shed light on how Earth’s first plants began to colonize the land more than 470 million years ago by forming a partnership with soil fungi.
The research, published in Nature Communications, has provided essential missing evidence showing that an ancient plant group worked together with soil-dwelling fungi to ‘green’ Earth in the early Palaeozoic era, nearly half a billion years ago.
The research, which also involved experts from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Imperial College London and the University of Sydney, has provided new insights into our understanding of the evolving dynamic behavior of Earth’s land plants and fungi.
Scientists have long-suspected that soil fungi formed mutually beneficial relationships with early land plants to play an essential role in assisting their initial colonization of terrestrial environments. However, until now there has been a lack of evidence demonstrating if and how the earliest ancient land plants, from the early Palaeozoic era (over 470 million years ago), might have cooperated with fungi for mutual benefit.