The fossil responsible for plant biodiversity has been discovered!
The living beings that we know today derive from a common being that evolved and underwent genetic mutations. Recent studies by researchers at theUniversity of Toronto and some Northwest University, Xi’an, in China, confirm this theory, particularly with regard to plants. Their research was carried out on a seaweed fossil which seems to conceal thousands of years of history.
The remnant is a seaweed named Protocodium which is presented in a three-dimensional form. The identification of the latter was possible thanks to its ability to preserve itself without absorbing minerals. Examinations have confirmed that the specimen contains elements still present in plants from the current era.
Shu Chai, a postdoctoral researcher at Northwest University, Xi’an in China, was the main actor in the study. The various research results were published in the journal BMC Biology.
Protocodium has a complex internal structure and perfect preservation
Paleontologists deduced that the fossil and its fine cellular details were preserved in three dimensions thanks to the replacement of the original organic matter with phosphate.
To uncover the internal structure of the algae, the scientists relied on virtual sections of the specimen and on data collected through electron microscopy. These examinations reveal that the Protocodium fossil is made up of tiny spheres half a millimeter wide, like large grains of pollen. These constitutions are themselves protected by several smaller domes.
Further observations reveal that the domed surface is actually part of a complex single cell containing thin strands called siphons. A quick comparison made it possible to determine that this morphology is specific to certain modern unicellular algae which contain numerous nuclei.
Protocodium appears to have created a variety of organisms of plant origins
The discovery of Protocodium led to the understanding that the Ediacaran and organisms like Codium all predate the time of said algae. The researchers also noticed that specific stages of famous fossil embryos from the Doushantuo Formation (also from China) resemble unicellular Protocodium seen from the outside. However, an examination of their internal composition reveals that they are composed of many cells.
Protocodium is a green algae and therefore a photosynthetic organism, which means that it was probably the foundation of the first terrestrial ecosystems. From an evolutionary perspective, green algae like the ancient Protocodium and land plants share a common ancestor living in the Ediacaran.
“We know that algae-like fossils are at least a billion years old. By the Ediacaran, evolution pushed these organisms into a stable adaptive zone. »
Shu Chai, postdoctoral researcher at Northwest University, Xi’an in China