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.ScienceDaily (May 15, 2012) — Prehistoric plants grown in state-of-the-art growth chambers recreating environmental conditions from more than 400 million years ago have shown scientists from the University of Sheffield how soil dwelling fungi played a crucial role in the evolution of plants.
This ground breaking work provides fundamental knowledge of how plants colonised the land before roots evolved and the co-evolution of one of the most ancient relationships, between fungi and early plants that played a founding role in the evolution of Earth's ecosystems.
The research highlights the importance of mutually beneficial plant-fungal relationships prior to the evolution of roots, whereby plants gain growth-promoting soil phosphorus from the fungi in exchange for sugars fixed by the plant through photosynthesis.