Read the Beforeitsnews.com story here. Advertise at Before It's News here.
Profile image
By Alton Parrish (Reporter)
Contributor profile | More stories
Story Views
Now:
Last Hour:
Last 24 Hours:
Total:

Lichens Are Way Younger Than Scientists Thought

% of readers think this story is Fact. Add your two cents.


You’ve probably seen a lichen, even if you didn’t realize it. If you’ve ever meandered through the forest and wondered what the crusty stuff on trees or rocks was, they’re lichens, a combination of algae and fungi living together almost as if they were one organism. And since they can grow on bare rocks, scientists thought that lichens were some of the first organisms to make their way onto land from the water, changing the planet’s atmosphere and paving the way for modern plants. 

A new study in Geobiology upends this history by delving deep into the DNA of the algae and fungi that form lichens and showing the lichens likely evolved millions of years after plants.
Common Orange Lichen – Xanthoria parietina
 Common Orange Lichen - Xanthoria parietina (43065875171).jpg
Credit: Björn S  /Wikimedia Commons
“When we look at modern ecosystems, and we see a bare surface like a rock, oftentimes lichens are the first thing to grow there, and eventually you’ll get plants growing on there too,” says Matthew Nelsen, lead author of the paper and a research scientist at the Field Museum. “People have thought that maybe that’s the way ancient colonization of land worked, but we’re seeing that these lichens actually came later in the game than plants.”

Four hundred and eighty-five million years ago, Earth was very different from what we see today. Hardly anything lived on land. But lichens can live in extreme conditions. They can grow on bare rocks and break them down, helping to create the soil needed by complex plants with roots (called “vascular plants”). Scientists thought that lichens must have arrived on land before the vascular plants did and made the environment more hospitable. But Nelsen and his colleagues’ work calls this timeline into question.

Nelsen didn’t set out to disrupt lichen’s status as some of the land’s first colonizers. He was initially interested in finding out how the algae-fungus relationship that makes up lichens came to be. If lichens could update their relationship status on Facebook, it would definitely be “it’s complicated.” They’re a product of symbiosis, a relationship where two species live together and both benefit. In this instance, the algae—or specialized blue-green algae called cyanobacteria—provide food and the fungi wraps around it creating a shelter. “The question of when lichens evolved and how many times fungi evolved the ability to form symbiotic relationships with algae has been a bit contentious in the past,” says Nelsen.

Lichen (24287157589).jpg
Credit: Ross /Wikimedia Commons

But to accurately determine when lichens evolved, scientists needed to examine the evolutionary history of both the fungi and algae that make them up. The early lichen fossil record isn’t very clear; it can be hard to tell lichen fossils apart from other fossils, and all the fossils that scientists know for sure are lichens are younger than the oldest complex plant fossils. So, the researchers used the fossils that were available to extrapolate the ages of family trees of lichen-forming fungi and algae. They compared these family trees with ages of fossil plants. The verdict: lichens probably evolved long after complex plants.

“Lichens aren’t as old as we thought they were. They’re a younger, newer sort of symbiosis and haven’t been around forever, covering the earth long before there were plants and animals running around,” says Nelsen.

Unearthing the age of lichens makes it clear that the pattern of modern lichens showing up on rocks before plants doesn’t mean that lichens evolved before plants. “It provides a snapshot into what was going on deep in time on Earth, and when some of these groups started appearing,” says Nelsen. And since lichens growing on soil can make the ground wetter, hold the soil in place, and influence the kind of nutrients present in soil, learning when lichens arrived on the scene use us a clearer picture of the world in which complex plants evolved.

By understanding what the Earth was like hundreds of millions of years ago, we can examine how it’s changed and gain more insight into the current state of our planet. For the researchers, it’s similar to the feeling you might get when learning about your family history from an ancestry DNA kit.

“It reshapes our understanding of the early evolution of complex ecosystems on Earth,” says Nelsen.

Contacts and sources:
Field Museum

Citation: . No support for the emergence of lichens prior to the evolution of vascular plants. Matthew P. Nelsen, Robert Lücking, C. Kevin Boyce, H. Thorsten Lumbsch, Richard H. Ree Geobiology, 2019; DOI: 10.1111/gbi.12369



Source: http://www.ineffableisland.com/2019/11/lichens-are-way-younger-than-scientists.html
Before It’s News® is a community of individuals who report on what’s going on around them, from all around the world.

Anyone can join.
Anyone can contribute.
Anyone can become informed about their world.

"United We Stand" Click Here To Create Your Personal Citizen Journalist Account Today, Be Sure To Invite Your Friends.

Please Help Support BeforeitsNews by trying our Natural Health Products below!

Join our affiliate program and earn extra money by sharing with friends and family or by posting on your social media.

Order by Phone at 888-809-8385 or online at www.mitocopper.com


Get our Free Ebook, "Suppressed Health Secrets"  with  Natural Cures THEY don't want you to know!

APeX - Far superior to colloidal silver! Destroys Viruses, Bacteria, Pathogens with Oxygen plus Silver!

Supreme Fulvic - Nature's most important supplement! Vivid Dreams again!

Ultimate Curcumin - Natural pain relief, reduce inflammation and so much more.

MitoCopper - Bioavailable Copper destroys pathogens and gives you more energy. (See Blood Video)
Oxy Powder - Natural Colon Cleanser!  Cleans out toxic buildup with oxygen! 
Organic Hemp Extract (CBD) - Full Spectrum high CBD (3300mg) hemp extract eases stiff joints, relieves stress and more!
Nascent Iodine - Promotes detoxification, mental focus and thyroid health.
Smart Meter Cover -  Reduces Smart Meter radiation by 96%!  (See Video)


FINAL WARNING!  Diseases are EXPLODING!  Watch this Video about APeX and You'll THROW AWAY Your Colloidal Silver!  APeX destroys Viruses, Bacteria and other Pathogens with the power of Oxygen PLUS Silver!  Nobody else has a product like THIS!   See why the inventor hasn't been sick in 16 years and why you'll never hear about it on the FAKE NEWS!  Get some now and tell your friends about it too so we can reach more people!  


APeX Interview - Superior to Colloidal Silver from Lee Canady on Vimeo.


Learn about APeX Here and Get the 50 Page Report in PDF format.   Call us at 888-809-8385 to order by phone.



Report abuse
Loading...
Loading...

Comments

Your Comments
Question   Razz  Sad   Evil  Exclaim  Smile  Redface  Biggrin  Surprised  Eek   Confused   Cool  LOL   Mad   Twisted  Rolleyes   Wink  Idea  Arrow  Neutral  Cry   Mr. Green

MOST RECENT
Loading...
Load more ...

SignUp

Login

Newsletter

Email this story
Email this story

If you really want to ban this commenter, please write down the reason:

If you really want to disable all recommended stories, click on OK button. After that, you will be redirect to your options page.