The greening ashore

Tue, 21 Jun 2022 03:27:38 GMT
Space Daily

Duesseldorf, Germany (SPX) Jun 21, 2022 A team led by evolutionary biologist Prof. Dr. Sven Gould...

A team led by evolutionary biologist Prof. Dr. Sven Gould of Heinrich Heine University Dusseldorf has been studying the current state of research on the plant colonisation of land that occurred some 500 million years ago.

The findings from this illustrated overview study published by Dr. Mona Schreiber as lead author have now appeared in the latest issue of the journal Trends in Plant Science.

For conditions on the continents were largely hostile to life, with a much higher volcanic activity releasing toxic gases into the atmosphere, a weaker magnetic field than exists today exposing the land more to cosmic rays, and a thinner ozone layer to filter out UV light.

Now Prof. Dr. Sven Gould of the Institute of Molecular Evolution at HHU, Prof. Dr. Stefan Rensing and Dr. Mona Schreiber, a bioinformatics specialist and artist from the University of Marburg, are providing an overview of the current state of research on the plant colonization of land in the journal Trends in Plant Science.

The purpose of the MAdLand programme is to explore the beginnings of the evolutionary adaptation of plant organisms to life on land.

The continents only began turning green after a streptophyte alga moved from an aquatic habitat into shore zones before completely transitioning onto land over 500 million years ago, in a process involving numerous molecular and morphological adaptations.

Throughout Earth's ongoing changes, plants demonstrated tremendous adaptational capability and altered the climate in crucial fashion, chiefly by fixing carbon dioxide on a massive scale.

Terrestrial flora spread in a dominant tour de force, with flowering plants proliferating in explosive fashion; today they comprise over 90% of all known terrestrial plant species.

In the history of our planet, land plants have caused several climatic changes, demonstrating tremendous adaptive capability again and again.

Regarding the role of humans in the planet's evolution, the study's senior author Professor Gould elucidates: "Human beings, which have but a brief history compared to plants, are indeed responsible in their own right for significant changes to the planet and its climate. The extreme rapidity of those changes poses a major problem, as nature has little insufficient time to adapt. The pace of human-caused change accelerated when man developed agriculture and animal husbandry, which led to steady population growth and the clearing of ever more land for farming." In this work the collaborating authors analyse human influences on the climate, discussing the adaptability of plant life to the changes that are today unfolding.

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