Researchers from the Université de Montpellier II (France), the Institute of Geology of China, and the ESRF have been able to identify enigmatic fossils from Devonian (about 400 million years) as fructification of charophyte algae. Charophytes are land plants living in fresh water that still exist nowadays. This breakthrough allows researchers to better understand the evolution of these very old plants of the Paleozoic era and to have an improved overview of the climate at this period. The use of powerful X-rays beams to perform high resolution microtomography at the ESRF was one of the major keys in helping to understand the internal structure of these fossils. The results of this research are published in the latest issue of the American Journal of Botany with the title “New insights into Paleozoic charophyte morphology and phylogeny”.
These fossils belong to the enigmatic group of Sycidiales. Since their discovery, in 1934, no one really knew what they actually were. They had been defined as bracken “seeds”, corals or even small crustacean eggs. Thanks to high resolution X-ray synchrotron microtomography on beamline ID19 at the ESRF, the team of scientists succeeded in investigating the three-dimensional structure of these fossils. The samples they used ranged from 500 micron to 4 mm and originated from all around the world. Synchrotron radiation was fundamental for this study since it revealed microscopic details of the internal anatomy of these fossils without damaging them. At present, no other techniques allowing the study of these structures in a non-destructive way are available.
Charophytes fructifications exhibit a complex evolution. They all have quite a rounded shape, but the oldest ones display vertical structures on their outside surface, while the most recent ones present spiral ones. Fossils studied during this research are from the Paleozoic (or Primary era) and show these vertical structures. What surprised the researchers was the presence of an utricule, which was known before only in some Mesozoic (secondary era) charophytes. An utricule is a supplementary protective layer believed to protect the zygote (reproductive cell) against desiccation. The fact that such a structure was acquired during the evolution of these very old algae means that they probably lived in a harsh environment. This structure could be interpreted as an adaptation to strong seasonality with dry summers leading to ephemeral aquatic environments.
Montserrat Capellas | alfa
Upcycling 'fast fashion' to reduce waste and pollution
03.04.2017 | American Chemical Society
Litter is present throughout the world’s oceans: 1,220 species affected
27.03.2017 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
Two researchers at Heidelberg University have developed a model system that enables a better understanding of the processes in a quantum-physical experiment...
Glaciers might seem rather inhospitable environments. However, they are home to a diverse and vibrant microbial community. It’s becoming increasingly clear that they play a bigger role in the carbon cycle than previously thought.
A new study, now published in the journal Nature Geoscience, shows how microbial communities in melting glaciers contribute to the Earth’s carbon cycle, a...
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
03.04.2017 | Event News
21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
21.04.2017 | Health and Medicine
21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy