ID: 613 / 159

Category: Symposia

Track: Pending


Abstract: Biological diversity refers to the variety of different species, including plants, animals, fungi and micro-organisms and the interactions among them. Through continued studies coupled with methodological advances, the diversity at the dawn of plant life on land is more and more documented. Our understanding of this early diversity is underpinned by fossil sites with exceptional preservation. In these sites the organisms and their interactions are preserved in exquisite detail as well as their surrounding environment. Furthermore, methodological advances, especially 3D imaging techniques, are powerful tools to reveal new insights on these ecosystems. However, there are some limitations: the diversity is often only sampled at the microscale and the conditions that result in exceptional preservation are often the product of unusual settings. In this symposium we will focus on shedding new light on the biological diversity hidden in early terrestrial sites of exceptional preservation such as the Rhynie chert (UK) dating to 407 Ma or the Massif Central cherts (France) dating to ca 335 to 303 Ma. Our aim is to do this through the lens of three complementary lines of evidence. First, to describe how methodologies such as 3D imaging techniques (e.g., confocal scanning laser microscopy) are providing new information on early fossils. Second, how an understanding of the process of decay and fossilization, termed taphonomy, are helping us interpret early diversity. Third, how the investigation of modern analogs can be key for interpreting early organisms. This symposium aims to bring together researchers working on disparate organisms (plants, algae, cyanobacteria, fungi, and other microorganisms) from early terrestrial environments. It has cross disciplinary interest, and it would appeal to a wide spectrum of botanists and mycologists. It is of relevance to palaeobotanists interested in early terrestrial organisms and to ecologists studying the ecology and evolution of plants and their interactions.

Speaker 1: Christine Strullu-Derrien Muséum National d’Histoire naturelle, ISYEB, Paris, France and Science Group, The Natural History Museum, London, UK Tentative talk title: Fungi and fungus-like diversity in Devonian (ca 400 Ma) and Carboniferous (ca 300 Ma) environments

Speaker 2: Alexander J. Hetherington Institute of Molecular Plant Sciences, University of Edinburgh, UK Tentative talk title: New insights from 3D reconstructions of the Rhynie chert plants

Speaker 3: Sean McMahon School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Edinburgh, UK Tentative talk title : Decoding bacteria in the Rhynie chert

Topics (Up to three): Palaeobotany

Topic 2: Plant, Animal, and Microbe interactions

Topic 3: Development and structure

Justification: Our symposium is interdisciplinary and spans multiple of the major topics of the conference. It has a key focus around collaborative work, new methodological approaches and ways that living species can be used to interpret organisms and ecosystems in the geological past. It will feature work spanning 8 of the major topics for the conference: Development and structure (9), Ecology and Plant Communities (10), Mycology and Lichenology (18), Macroevolution (19), Paleobotany (20), Plant, Animal, and Microbe Interactions (24), Palynology (26), Pteridology (28)