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Molecular signatures of fossil leaves provideunexpected new evidence for extinct plant relationships
Swedish Museum of Natural History, Department of Paleobiology. Department of Geology, Lund University, Sweden.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-2987-5559
Department of General Physics and Spectroscopy, Vilnius University, LT-102 57 Vilnius, Lithuania.
Swedish Museum of Natural History, Department of Paleobiology.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-6723-239X
MAX-IV laboratory, Lund University, SE-221 00 Lund, Sweden.
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2017 (English)In: Nature Ecology and Evolution, E-ISSN ISSN 2397-334X, Vol. 1, 1093-1099 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Gene sequences form the primary basis for understanding the relationships among extant plant groups, but genetic data are unavailable from fossils to evaluate the affinities of extinct taxa. Here we show that geothermally resistant fossil cuticles of seed-bearing plants, analysed with Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy and hierarchical cluster analysis (HCA), retain biomolecular suites that consistently distinguish major taxa even after experiencing different diagenetic histories. Our results reveal that similarities between the cuticular biochemical signatures of major plant groups (extant and fossil) are mostly consistent with recent phylogenetic hypotheses based on molecular and morphological data. Our novel chemotaxonomic data also support the hypothesis that the extinct Nilssoniales and Bennettitales are closely allied, but only distantly related to Cycadales. The chemical signature of the cuticle of Czekanowskia (Leptostrobales) is strongly similar to that of Ginkgo leaves and supports a close evolutionary relationship between these groups. Finally, our results also reveal that the extinct putative araucariacean, Allocladus, when analysed through HCA, is grouped closer to Ginkgoales than to conifers. Thus, in the absence of modern relatives yielding molecular information, FTIR spectroscopy provides valuable proxy biochemical data complementing morphological characters to distinguish fossil taxa and to help elucidate extinct plant relationships.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
London: Springer Nature , 2017. Vol. 1, 1093-1099 p.
Keyword [en]
Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, fossil leaves, cuticle, chemistry, hierarchical cluster analysis, Mesozoic, gymnosperms
National Category
Other Earth and Related Environmental Sciences
Research subject
Ecosystems and species history
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:nrm:diva-2567DOI: 10.1038/s41559-017-0224-5OAI: oai:DiVA.org:nrm-2567DiVA: diva2:1162337
Funder
Swedish Research Council, 2015-4264, 2014-5234
Note

Additional funding from:

Swedish Research Council (VR) under grant LUCCI (Lund University Carbon Cycle Centre); and the Utrecht Network Young researchers’ grant.

Available from: 2017-12-01 Created: 2017-12-04Bibliographically approved

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Publisher's full texthttps://www.nature.com/articles/s41559-017-0224-5

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