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Diversity and ecological adaptations in Palaeogene lichens


Ulla Kaasalainen, Alexander R. Schmidt & Jouko Rikkinen


Lichens are highly specialized symbioses between heterotrophic fungi and photoautotrophic green algae or cyanobacteria. The mycobionts of many lichens produce morphologically complex thalli to house their photobionts. Lichens play important roles in ecosystems and have been used as indicators of environmental change. Here we report the finding of 152 new fossil lichens from European Palaeogene amber, and hence increase the total number of known fossil lichens from 15 to 167. Most of the fossils represent extant lineages of the Lecanoromycetes, an almost exclusively lichen-symbiotic class of Ascomycota. The fossil lichens show a wide diversity of morphological adaptations that attached epiphytic thalli to their substrates, helped to combine external water storage with effective gas exchange and facilitated the simultaneous reproduction and dispersal of both partners in symbiosis. The fossil thallus morphologies suggest that the climate of European Palaeogene amber forests was relatively humid and most likely temperate.

DOI: 10.1038/nplants.2017.49

READ IT HERE: https://www.nature.com/articles/nplants201749

Lurdes Fonseca

Assistant Professor and Researcher at University of Lisbon
Sociologist (PhD), Paleontologist (Researcher in Micropaleontology), Majors in Sociology and Biology, Minor in Geology. Main interests in Paleontology: Microfossils, Molecular fossils, Paleobiology and Paleoecology. (read more about me)