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Abstract Detail


Varela, Nancy [1], Harper, Carla [2], Krings, Michael [3].

Small things matter too: A minute mantled reproductive unit from the Lower Devonian Windyfield chert.

One of the hallmark features of the Lower Devonian Rhynie chert is the abundance and morphological diversity of small fungal reproductive units. However, dealing with these remains is difficult because they do not provide a complete range of structural features necessary to determine systematic affinities. Several types of Rhynie chert fungal reproductive units possess an ancillary covering in the form of a hyphal investment or mantle. Mantle morphology varies between different forms, and thus renders them easy to distinguish from one another. Less famous and less studied than the Rhynie chert is the broadly coeval Windyfield chert, situated close to the original Rhynie chert site. The Windyfield biota is believed to closely correspond to that found in the Rhynie chert; however, the fungi preserved in the Windyfield chert are largely unknown. This study focuses on a mantled fungal reproductive unit recently discovered from the Windyfield chert that is ovoid, ~31 µm wide and 38 µm long, and consists of a central cavity surrounded by a mantle (up to ~5 µm thick) of tightly interwoven hyphae. The fossil represents the smallest Early Devonian mantled fungal reproductive unit recorded to date. Individual mantle hyphae lack any obvious overall arrangement, are sparsely septate, and range from 0.59–3.17 µm wide. One distinguishing feature of the fossil is several prominent hyphae that emerge from the mantle and radiate outwards. Moreover, the new form is characterized by a complex extension of the hyphal mantle that we arbitrarily term ‘tail’. It is likely that the new specimen was produced by a member of the Mucoromycotina (“zygomycetous fungi”) based on similar features in modern lineages of fungi known to produce spores or sporangia with hyphal mantles. This discovery adds to the inventory of morphologically distinctive Early Devonian fungi, and suggests that, as research continues, the Windyfield chert, like the famous Rhynie chert, will become increasingly important as a source of new information on fungal diversity in early non-marine ecosystems.

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1 - University of Kansas, Biotechnology, 12600 Quivira Rd., Overland Park, Kansas, 66213, USA
2 - University Of Kansas, Ecology And Evolutionary Biology, 1200 Sunnyside Ave, Haworth Hall, Lawrence, KS, 66045, United States
3 - Bayerische Staatssammlung Für Paläontologie Und Ge, Richard-Wagner Strasse 10, Munich, D-80333, Germany

fossil fungi
Windyfield chert
Rhynie chert
hyphal investment.

Presentation Type: Oral Paper
Session: 28, Cookson Award Session I
Location: 109/Mayo Civic Center
Date: Tuesday, July 24th, 2018
Time: 1:45 PM
Number: 28002
Abstract ID:161
Candidate for Awards:Isabel Cookson Award,Maynard F. Moseley Award

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