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Mineral weathering and soil development in the earliest land plant ecosystems

Ria L. Mitchell, Javier Cuadros, Jeffrey G. Duckett, Silvia Pressel, Christian Mavris, Dan Sykes, Jens Najorka, Gregory D. Edgecombe and Paul Kenrick
Mineral weathering and soil development in the earliest land plant ecosystems
Geology (Boulder) (December 2016) 44 (12): 1007-1010


Land colonization by plants and their fungal and bacterial symbionts during the Paleozoic was fundamental to the evolution of terrestrial ecosystems, but how these early communities influenced mineral weathering and soil development remains largely unknown. We investigated cryptogamic ground covers (CGCs) in Iceland to identify modern analogous communities and to characterize soil structure and biologically mediated weathering features. Using a novel application of X-ray microcomputed tomography, we show that moss-dominated CGCs and their soils are not adequate analogues of early communities. Comparisons with the 407 Ma Rhynie Chert (Scotland) biota indicate that modern CGCs dominated by lichens, liverworts, and their associated symbionts (fungi, cyanobacteria) are more representative of early soil-forming communities. Liverwort and lichen soils are thin, and their depth and complexity are constrained by the size and growth form of the dominant plants or lichens. They are aggregated and stabilized by cyanobacteria, mycorrhizal and lichenized fungi, rhizoids, and associated exudates. Smectite was associated with liverwort but not with moss CGC soils. Soil grain dissolution features are diverse and attributable to different organisms (e.g., bacteria, fungi) and types of interaction (e.g., symbiosis). We postulate that such features provide a novel indirect means of inferring biotic interactions in paleosols.

ISSN: 0091-7613
EISSN: 1943-2682
Serial Title: Geology (Boulder)
Serial Volume: 44
Serial Issue: 12
Title: Mineral weathering and soil development in the earliest land plant ecosystems
Affiliation: Natural History Museum, Department of Earth Sciences, London, United Kingdom
Pages: 1007-1010
Published: 201612
Text Language: English
Publisher: Geological Society of America (GSA), Boulder, CO, United States
References: 25
Accession Number: 2017-005852
Categories: SoilsStratigraphy
Document Type: Serial
Bibliographic Level: Analytic
Annotation: GSA Data Repository item 2016338
Illustration Description: illus. incl. sketch map
N63°40'00" - N66°30'00", W24°45'00" - W13°30'00"
Secondary Affiliation: University of Manchester, GBR, United Kingdom
Country of Publication: United States
Secondary Affiliation: GeoRef, Copyright 2017, American Geosciences Institute. Reference includes data from GeoScienceWorld, Alexandria, VA, United States. Reference includes data supplied by the Geological Society of America, Boulder, CO, United States
Update Code: 201705
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