Land Plant Evolution: Phylogenetics and Beyond
Niklas, Karl J. .
Early land plant evolution: A biophysical perspective.
THE first successful land plants evolved the ability to survive in an aerial environment by reconciling the conflicting biological requirements for light interception, liquid mass-transport, mechanical support, and gas/energy exchange with the ambient environment (while simultaneously conserving water and regulating body heat). Theoretically, the performance of each of these biological functions can be maximized. However, a biophysical ("first principles") perspective on how all of these functions can be performed simultaneously identifies only two basic body-forms that are capable of optimization (i.e., cylinders and oblate spheroids), which are also functionally compatible with the "schizophrenic" reproductive obligations of the ancient embryophyte life-cycle (i.e., aerial meiospore dispersal and flagellated sperm survival). A biophysical perspective also shows that increases in body size of either of these two basic body-forms is either vegetatively or reproductively adaptive, but that it requires morphological or anatomical restructuring or specialization. Many if not all of the trends predicted by a "first principles" perspective on early land plant evolution are consistent with what it currently known about the fossil record of the most ancient embryophyte lineages.
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1 - Cornell University, Department of Plant Biology, Ithaca, New York, 14853, (USA)
Presentation Type: Symposium or Colloquium Presentation
Date: Monday, July 31st, 2006
Time: 3:15 PM