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Fungi from the Lower Devonian Rhynie Chert: Chytridiomycetes

Thomas N. Taylor, Winfried Remy and Hagen Hass
American Journal of Botany
Vol. 79, No. 11 (Nov., 1992), pp. 1233-1241
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2445050
Page Count: 9
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Fungi from the Lower Devonian Rhynie Chert: Chytridiomycetes
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Abstract

Several different chytridiomycetes are described from the Lower Devonian (Siegenian) Rhynie chert. Included are both eucarpic and apparently holocarpic forms that occur in Palaeonitella, Aglaophyton, Lyonophyton, Horneophyton, and clusters of algal cells, as well as in the surrounding chert matrix. Holocarpic types consist of endobiotic sporangia, each characterized by one discharge tube. Sporangia can be traced from the thallus stage to the discharge of zoospores. Monocentric and polycentric eucarpic chytrids are associated with the miospores of Aglaophyton and various thick-walled fungal spores. In these forms the sporangia are variable in size and shape ranging up to 30 μm. Most appear to be inoperculate and there is evidence that the sporangium ruptured on the distal surface. Some contain zoospores with flagella. One operculate eucarpic form had parasitized the cellular gametophyte emerging from the proximal surface of an Aglaophyton spore. Several of the Rhynie chert chytrids are comparable with a number of extant forms (e.g., Olpidiaceae and Spizellomycetaceae), while others possess features that encompass several groups. These fossil fungi are discussed in the context of their interactions with other organisms in this Lower Devonian freshwater paleoecosystem.

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