Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

A world ruled by fungi

05.03.2004


The catastrophe that extinguished the dinosaurs and other animal species, 65 million years ago also brought dramatic changes to the vegetation. In a study presented in latest issue of the journal Science, the paleontologists Vivi Vajda from the University of Lund, Sweden and Stephen McLoughlin from the Queensland University of Technology, Australia have described what happened to the vegetation month by month. They depict a world in darkness where the fungi had taken over.



It´s known that an asteroid hit the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico at the end of the Cretaceous Period. It left a 180 km wide crater and from the impact site tsunamis developed and the Caribbean region was buried in ash and other debris. The consequences of the asteroid impact were global. Vajda and her colleagues have previously studied the broad-scale changes in the New Zealand vegetation following the impact, but now they have dramatically improved our view of the timing of events.

At the end of the Cretaceous the vegetation on New Zealand was dominated by conifers and flowering plants. Many of these species disappeared suddenly at the end of the Period and were instead replaced by fungal spores and fungal threads preserved in a four millimeter thick layer of coal. The layer coincides with fallout of iridium, an element rare in Earth’s crust but which abounds in asteroids.


-We have managed to reconstruct the event month by month, with a very high time resolution, says Vivi Vajda. During a very short period - from between a few months to a couple of years – the fungi and other saprophytes which live on dead organisms must have been the dominating life form on Earth. Atmospheric dust blocked the sunlight and led to the death of plants that are dependent on photosynthesis.

The layer of fossil fungi is followed by a 60 cm thick interval containing traces of the recovery flora, which re-established relatively quickly, ground ferns at first, followed after decades to hundreds of years by more diverse, woody vegetation.

A similar layer of fungi and algae is known from a previous catastrophe which happened 251 million years ago at the Permian-Triassic boundary. This was an even greater mass extinction: about 90% of the existing species disappeared. Research will now focus on whether the similar biological signatures at these mass extinctions reflect similar causal mechanisms.

Göran Frankel | alfa
Further information:
http://www.vr.se

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Unravelling the genetics of fungal fratricide
16.10.2018 | Uppsala University

nachricht Fungal weapon turns against the maker
16.10.2018 | Leibniz-Institut für Naturstoff-Forschung und Infektionsbiologie - Hans-Knöll-Institut (HKI)

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Storage & Transport of highly volatile Gases made safer & cheaper by the use of “Kinetic Trapping"

Augsburg chemists present a new technology for compressing, storing and transporting highly volatile gases in porous frameworks/New prospects for gas-powered vehicles

Storage of highly volatile gases has always been a major technological challenge, not least for use in the automotive sector, for, for example, methane or...

Im Focus: Disrupting crystalline order to restore superfluidity

When we put water in a freezer, water molecules crystallize and form ice. This change from one phase of matter to another is called a phase transition. While this transition, and countless others that occur in nature, typically takes place at the same fixed conditions, such as the freezing point, one can ask how it can be influenced in a controlled way.

We are all familiar with such control of the freezing transition, as it is an essential ingredient in the art of making a sorbet or a slushy. To make a cold...

Im Focus: Micro energy harvesters for the Internet of Things

Fraunhofer IWS Dresden scientists print electronic layers with polymer ink

Thin organic layers provide machines and equipment with new functions. They enable, for example, tiny energy recuperators. In future, these will be installed...

Im Focus: Dynamik einzelner Proteine

Neue Messmethode erlaubt es Forschenden, die Bewegung von Molekülen lange und genau zu verfolgen

Das Zusammenspiel aus Struktur und Dynamik bestimmt die Funktion von Proteinen, den molekularen Werkzeugen der Zelle. Durch Fortschritte in der...

Im Focus: Dynamics of individual proteins

New measurement method allows researchers to precisely follow the movement of individual molecules over long periods of time

The function of proteins – the molecular tools of the cell – is governed by the interplay of their structure and dynamics. Advances in electron microscopy have...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Berlin5GWeek: Private industrial networks and temporary 5G connectivity islands

16.10.2018 | Event News

5th International Conference on Cellular Materials (CellMAT), Scientific Programme online

02.10.2018 | Event News

Major Project: The New Silk Road

01.10.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Unravelling the genetics of fungal fratricide

16.10.2018 | Life Sciences

Blue phosphorus -- mapped and measured for the first time

16.10.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Berlin5GWeek: Private industrial networks and temporary 5G connectivity islands

16.10.2018 | Event News

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>