Fossil stromatolites enclosing structurally preserved land plant remains have rarely been documented and studied in detail. Permineralized woody Tylodendron sp. conifer axes (slender stems, branches) from a lacustrine sedimentary sequence in the lower Permian fossil Lagerstätte of Manebach (Thuringian-Forest Basin, central Germany) are frequently surrounded by stromatolites that consist of successive, usually asymmetrical microbial layers. The stromatolites show various growth forms ranging from laminar to palisadic. They developed in stagnant water from microbial overgrowth dominated by slender, unbranched sessile cyanobacterial filaments aligned vertically into tufts or turf-like stands. Interspersed among the filaments were other filamentous and coccoid microorganisms. Preservation of the Tylodendron axes can be exquisite and sometimes even includes extraxylary tissues containing remains of fungi, suggesting that stromatolite formation began soon after the axes had entered the water and were perhaps even conducive to their preservation. Structurally similar fossil microbialitic structures from elsewhere likewise demonstrate that they were effective in preserving plant morphology. The Manebach stromatolites and the plant remains they contain contribute to a more accurate understanding of the complex biological processes in late Paleozoic lake ecosystems.

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