Evolutionary Biology: Coastal Landscaping: Trends in Plant Science Cover: – ScienceDaily

A team led by evolutionary biologist Prof. Dr. Sven Gould of the Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf (HHU) is studying the current state of research on plant colonization of the earth, which occurred about 500 million years ago. The results of this illustrated review, published by Dr. Mona Schreiber as lead author, have already appeared in the latest issue of the journal Trends in plant science.

It took several hundred million years after the formation of the Earth about 4 billion years ago to cool the original fireball, which allowed the formation of the first oceans and land masses. The earth was a barren rock for the next three billion years.

The blue planet with green continents we know today did not exist as such in that era. As continent conditions were largely hostile to life, with much higher volcanic activity emitting toxic gases into the atmosphere, a lower magnetic field than today, exposing the earth more to cosmic rays, and a thinner ozone layer for UV light filtration.

This began to change about 500 million years ago, when plants began to colonize the earth. The invasion catalyzed the metamorphosis of the hostile environment, accelerating the transformation of the atmosphere to lay the foundations for the development of life on land as we know it today. All this can happen only after the plants that lived only in the oceans and inland fresh waters have conquered the continents.

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, provide an overview of the current state of research on colonization of the land with plants in the journal Trends in Plant Science. Their document was written in connection with priority program 2237 “MAdLand” (Molecular Adaptation to Earth), funded by the German Research Foundation. The aim of the MAdLand program is to study the beginning of the evolutionary adaptation of plant organisms to life on land.

The continents began to turn green only after streptophytic algae moved from an aquatic habitat to coastal areas, before fully landing more than 500 million years ago, in a process involving many molecular and morphological adaptations. During the current changes on Earth, plants have demonstrated a great ability to adapt and changed the climate in a crucial way, mainly by fixing carbon dioxide (CO2) on a huge scale.

The terrestrial flora spreads predominantly, with flowering plants multiplying in an explosive manner; today they make up over 90% of all known terrestrial plant species. In the history of our planet, terrestrial plants have caused several climate changes, demonstrating tremendous adaptability over and over again.

Researchers are studying the genomes of species of evolutionary importance in terms of terrestrialization, including mosses, lycopods, ferns and some algae, in an attempt to expand their knowledge of evolutionary processes and molecular adaptation. Their work is aimed at identifying the mechanisms that serve to mitigate the hostile living conditions on land that have changed in the course of this evolution. They may indeed be relevant to climate change, including crop modification in response to changing environmental conditions.

Regarding the role of humans in the evolution of the planet, the study’s senior author, Professor Gould, said: “Human beings who have only a brief history compared to plants are indeed responsible for significant changes in the planet and its climate. the extreme speed of these changes is a serious problem, as nature does not have enough time to adapt. The pace of human-induced change is accelerating as people develop agriculture and animal husbandry, leading to stable population growth and the clearing of more and more land for agriculture. ” to the changes that are unfolding today.

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Materials provided by Heinrich Heine University of Düsseldorf. Original, written by Arne Clausen. Note: Content can be edited for style and length.

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