Schwendemann, Andrew B. , Taylor, Thomas N. , Taylor, Edith L. .
Parasitism of a Triassic conifer embryo and pteridosperm seed.
Endophytic fungi are known to have significant effects on the diversity and structure of plant communities today, irrespective of whether the fungi are mutualistic, parasitic, or function as saprotrophs. Several examples of each interaction are known from the fossil record, including fungi in seeds. Although the precise details of these interactions between fungi and their seed hosts are not known, this is largely the result of the lack of preserved tissues in the seeds. Preserved plant embryos are rarely found in the fossil record. An embryo from the seed cone of Parasciadopitys aequata has recently been discovered in permineralized peat from the early Middle Triassic Fremouw Peak locality in Antarctica. The anatomically preserved embryo is extensively infected with the fungus Mycocarpon asterineum, which has also recently been discovered in the pteridosperm seed of Petriellaea triangulata. Although the trophic mode of this fungus was previously unknown, current evidence may suggest that it was a parasitic endosymbiont with a biotrophic (invades and lives within the tissue) or hemibiotrophic (invades and ultimately destroys the tissue) infection strategy. This discovery of fungal endophytes in various reproductive structures in the Triassic provides an opportunity to expand our knowledge of how dispersed fungal sporocarps may have actually functioned in this Mesozoic ecosystem.
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1 - University of Kansas, Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, Natural History Museum and Biodiversity Research Center, 1200 Sunnyside Avenue, Lawrence, Kansas, 66045-7534, USA
Presentation Type: Oral Paper:Papers for BSA Sections
Location: Superior A/Cliff Lodge - Level C
Date: Monday, July 27th, 2009
Time: 10:30 AM