2000 Annual Science Report
University of Colorado, Boulder Reporting | JUL 1999 – JUN 2000
UCB Origin and Early Evolution of Terrestrial Photosynthetic Life
During the last year, two aspects of the origin of terrestrial photosynthetic life have been worked on: the origin of water conducting cells to allow autotrophic life to move from water to land and the origin of symbiosis as a key to the colonization of terrestrial environments. The work on symbiosis involves an investigation of the mycorrhizal associations between primitive land plants and specific fungi that are hypothesized to have been critical to the initial colonization of land by photosynthetic green algae. We are using molecular markers to determine the specific fungi that engage in symbiotic relationships with primitive plants. On the project involving the study of the ability of photosynthetic organisms to translocate water within increasingly complex bodies, we have made major progress in interpreting some of the earliest fossil records of water conducting cells (Silurian and Devonian). This work will appear in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society in 2000. During the next year, the main focus will be on the evolution of plant fungal symbiosis and its bearing on the colonization of terrestrial environments.
PROJECT MEMBERS:William Friedman
RELATED OBJECTIVES:Objective 6.0
Define how ecophysiological processes structure microbial communities, influence their adaptation and evolution, and affect their detection on other planets.
Understand the natural processes by which life can migrate from one world to another. Are we alone in the Universe?