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CHAPTER 30

PLANTS AND THE


CONQUEST
OF LAND

Prepared by
Brenda Leady, University of Toledo

1 reprod
Copyright (c) The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. Permission required for
 Eukaryotic, primarily photosynthetic
organisms that mostly live on land and
display many adaptations to life in
terrestrial habitats
 Most likely evolved from aquatic algal
ancestors

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Ancestry
 Monophyletic kingdom
 Probably originated from a single common
protist ancestor
 Either Chara or Coleochaete are modern
protists most closely related to ancestry of
land plants

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10 plant phyla
 Liverworts
 Hornworts
 Mosses
 Lycophytes
 Pteridophytes
 Cycads
 Ginkgos
 Conifers
 Gnetophytes
 Angiosperms

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Bryophytes
 Include liverworts, hornworts, and mosses
 Monophyletic phyla
 Share common structural, reproductive
and ecological features
 Models of earliest plants

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 Bryophytes display features absent from
charophycean algae but present in plants
 Likely early adaptations to land
 Charophycean display a zygotic life cycle with a
one cell diploid zygote
 Bryophytes and other plants exhibit a sporic life
cycle with alternation of generations

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Adaptations to life on land
 Sporic life cycle has 2 multicellular life
stages
 Diploidsporophyte produces haploid spores
by meiosis
 Spores grow into gametophytes
 Haploid gametophyte produces gametes by
mitosis
 Gametes are nonflagellate eggs and smaller
flagellate sperm fuse into single-celled diploid
zygotes
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Gametophytes
 Produces haploid gametes
 Gametangia protects developing gametes from
drying out and microbial attack
 Antheridia – round or elongate gametangia
producing sperm
 Archegonia – flask shaped gametangia
enclosing an egg
 Sperm swim to egg and fuse to form diploid
zygote
 Zygotes grow into sporophytes
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Sporophytes
 Zygotes remain sheltered and fed within
gametophyte tissue
 Young sporophytes are embryos
 When mature, spores are produced in
protective enclosures known as sporangia
 Plant spore cell walls contain
sporopollenin to help prevent cellular
damage
 During evolution, plant sporophytes
become larger and more complex
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Distinguishing bryophyte features
 Gametophytes dominant generation (as
opposed to dominant sporophyte
generation in other plants)
 Sporophytes are dependent on
gametophtye and small and short lived (as
opposed to independent, large and long-
lived in other plants)
 Nonvascular or lacking tissues for
structural support and conduction found in
other plants (vascular plants)
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Lycophytes and pteridophytes
 Lycophytes- more
numerous and
larger in the past
but now about
1000 relatively
small species

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 Pteridophytes – about 12,000 species of
ferns, horsetails and whisk ferns

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 Diverged prior to the origin of seeds
 Seedless vascular plants
 Bryophytes are seedless and nonvascular
 Lycophytes, pteridophytes and seed-
producing plants are vascular plants or
tracheophytes
 Possess tracheids for water and mineral
conduction and structural support

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Roots, stems and leaves
 Produce specialized
organs like other
tracheophytes
 Stems
 Contain vascular tissue
and produce leaves and
reproductive structures
 Contain phloem and xylem
(contains tracheids and
lignin)
 Roots
 Specialized for uptake of
water and minerals from
the soil
 Leaves
 Photosynthetic function 21
Adaptations That Foster Stable Internal
Water Content

 Waxy cuticle present on most surfaces of


vascular plant sporophytes
 Cutin found in cuticle that helps prevent
pathogen attack
 Wax prevents desiccation
 Stomata are pores that open and close to
allow gas exchange while minimizing
water loss
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Gymnosperms
 Cycads, ginkgos, conifers
and gnetophytes
 Reproduce using spores
and seeds (like
angiosperms)
 Seed plants
 Seeds protect and
provide energy for young
sporophyte
 “Naked seeds” meaning
seeds are not enclosed
by fruit
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Angiosperms
 Distinguished by the
presence of flowers and
endosperm
 Flowers are specialized
to enhance seed
production
 Fruits develop from
flowers and enclose the
seed and foster seed
dispersal
 Endosperm is a nutritive
seed tissue with
increased storage
efficiency 24
Evolutionary history of land plants

 A billion years ago, terrestrial surface bare


 Some cyanobacteria crusts
 Origin of land plants essential to the
development of substantial soils, evolution
of modern plants, and animals colonizing
land
 Living plant phyla reveal the order plants
appeared
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Molecular approaches
 Compare gene sequences from diverse plants
 Arrangements of branches on phylogenetic trees
changes as new data becomes available
 Selection acts on expressed genes, so introns
change more slowly than encoding regions
 Can reveal ancient phylogenetic divergences
 Analysis shows pteridophytes to be
monophyletic
 Horsetailsand whisk ferns had been classified
separately based on structural features

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Use of fossils
 Tough plant compounds
help to preserve plant
structures
 Compare fossils to other
fossils and living plants
 Compared modern
lycophytes treated to
degrade all but the most
resistant plant materials
(those likely to fossilize)
and found similarities with
particular fossils 27
3 steps to plants conquering land

1. Aquatic charophycean algae give rise to


the first land-adapted plants
2. Seedless plants transform Earth’s
atmosphere and climate
3. Ancient cataclysm marks the rise of
angiosperms

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Algae give rise to land plants
 Plants most likely evolved from an aquatic
ancestor similar to modern, complex
charophycean algae
 Phragmoplast
 Distinctivefeature of plant cytokinesis
 Promotes the development of intercellular
connections (plasmodesmata)
 Land plants used these traits to build
increasingly more complex bodies better
adapted to terrestrial stresses
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 Early plants acquired other features in
response to life on land, not water
 All land plants possess several features
not found in charophyceans
 All land plants posses xyloglucan
carbohydrates that cross-link cellulose
microfibrils

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The Number of Genes That Controls Cellulose
Production Increased During Plant Evolutionary
History
 Cellulose-rich cell
walls are a
hallmark of plants
and many green
algae
 Spun from terminal
complexes located
in plasma
membranes
(rosettes)
 CesA gene encodes cellulose synthase
 Compared CesA genes of charophycean
algae, seedless plants, and seed plants
 CesA gene family has diversified by gene
duplication and divergence
 Correlated with evolution of greater plant
structural complexity
Seedless plants transformed
ecology
 Liverworts and mosses produce decay-
resistant body tissues
 Used modern data to estimate ecological
impact of early nonvascular plants
 Helped enrich soils
 Could have begun process of organic
carbon burial that helps to reduce amount
of greenhouse gas CO2 in the atmosphere
 Influences temperature and precipitation

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 Modern bryophytes also store CO2
 Under cooler than normal conditions, Sphagnum
grows more slowly and thus absorbs less CO2,
allowing atmospheric CO2 to rise a bit
 Since atmospheric CO2 helps to warm Earth’s
climate, increasing CO2 warms the climate a little
 When the climate warms sufficiently, Sphagnum
grows faster, thereby sponging up more CO2 as
peat deposits
 Reducing atmospheric CO2 returns the climate
to slightly cooler conditions
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Ecological effects of vascular plants
 First appear 420-430 mya - Coal Age
 Carboniferous plants converted huge amounts of
atmospheric CO2 into decay-resistant organic
material
 Carboniferous proliferation of vascular plants
was correlated with a dramatic decrease in
atmospheric carbon dioxide, which reached a
historic low about 300 mya
 Atmospheric oxygen levels rose to historic high
levels, because less O2 was being used to break
down organic carbon into CO2
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 Carboniferous decline in CO2 level caused cool,
dry conditions to prevail in the late
Carboniferous and early Permian period
 Abrupt global climate change caused many of
the giant lycophytes and pteridophytes that had
dominated Carboniferous forests to go extinct
 Cooler, drier Permian conditions favored
extensive diversification of the first seed plants,
the gymnosperms
 Seed plants were better able than nonseed
plants to reproduce in cooler, drier habitats

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Rise of angiosperms
 Diverse
gymnosperms
dominated Earth’s
vegetation through
the Mesozoic era
(248–65 mya), the
Age of Dinosaurs

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 One day, about 65 mya, at least one large
meteorite or comet crashed near Yucatan
Peninsula in Mexico
 K/T event marking end of Cretaceous and
beginning of Tertiary
 Huge amounts of ash, smoke and haze
dimmed sunlight long enough to kill many
of the world’s plants
 Surviving flowering plants diversified into
space left
 New types of animals also appeared
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Critical innovations in plant evolution

 Embryos
 Leaves
 Seeds

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Embryo
 Absent from charophyceans
 First distinctive trait acquired by land plants
 Embryophytes a synonym for plants
 3 features
 Multicellular
and diploid
 Zygotes and embryos retained
 Depends on organic and mineral materials supplied
by mother plant – placental transfer tissues

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 Placental transfer
tissue
 Cells specialized to
promote movement
of solute from
gametophyte to
embryo
 Finger-like cell-wall
ingrowths
 Dissolved sugars,
amino acids, and
minerals
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Browning and Gunning Demonstrated That
Placental Transfer Tissues Increase Plant
Reproductive Fitness

 Placental transfer tissues increase the rate at


which radioactively labeled carbon moves through
placental transfer tissues from green
gametophytes into young sporophytes
 In the experiment, shading the young sporophyte
from using radiolabeled CO2 – their only nutrition
comes from the gametophyte
 22% of the organic carbon made by the
gametophyte moved to the sporophyte
 Much faster than in other plant tissues without
transfer tissues
Leaves

 Effectively capture sunlight for photosynthesis


 Lycophytes produce simplest, most ancient
leaves called lycophylls or microphylla
 Other vascular plants have leaves with
extensively branched veins – euphylls or
megaphylls
 Largersize provide considerable advantage
 Evolved in a series of steps

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Seeds
 Ovule
 Sporangium with single spore and a very small egg-
producing gametophyte inside
 Enclosed by integuments

 Seed plants produce 2 distinct types of spores in


2 different types of sporangia
 Microspores in microsporangia – male gametophytes
– pollen
 Megaspores in megasporangia – female gametophyte
develops and produces eggs
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 Male gametophyte extends pollen tube
carrying 2 sperm toward the egg
 1 sperm fertilizes egg to become an
embryo
 Other sperm fuses with different
gametophyte tissue to form endosperm
 Double fertilization
 Seeds allow embryos access to food
supplied by older sporophyte generation

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Ecological advantages of seeds
 Able to remain dormant in the soil so can
wait for favorable conditions
 Larger and more complex so resistant to
damage and attack
 Adaptations to improve dispersal
 Can store considerable amounts of food
 Sperm can reach egg without having to
swim through water
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Descent with modification
 Seed plants have no replaced spores with seeds
 Ovules and seeds added to life history including spores
 Most lycophytes and pteridophytes release one type of
spore and one type of gametophyte
 Others produce microspores and megaspores
(heterospory)
 These protected gametophytes grow inside microspore
and megaspore walls – endosporic gametophytes
 Heterospory advantage to increase cross-fertilization
 Early steps to seed evolution

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 Next step would be
retention of
megaspores instead
of releasing them
 Another would be
only one megaspore
per sporangium
 Then retention of
megasporangium on
parental sporophyte

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