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Cord-forming Palaeozoic fungi in terrestrial assemblages.

Smith, M.R. (2016) 'Cord-forming Palaeozoic fungi in terrestrial assemblages.', Botanical journal of the Linnean Society., 180 (4). pp. 452-460.


The fossil record paints a thin picture of early terrestrial life. Useful diagnostic features are rare in the organic-walled fossils of the first land colonizers, and at first glance the Silurian–Devonian Tortotubus protuberans seems no exception. Now, new material from New York, Gotland and Scotland reveals the ontogenesis and affinity of this problematic organism. Its filamentous early stages (previously referred to Ornatifilum lornensis) demonstrate simple septal perforations and a bilayered cell wall; threads of entwined filaments, bounded by an elaborately sculptured surface, arose via the retrograde growth and subsequent proliferation of secondary branches. This morphology and pattern of growth together indicate an affinity with the ‘higher’ fungi (Dikarya) and document the formation of differentiated mycelium. The presence of complex mycelial fossils in the earliest Silurian corroborates the likely contribution of fungi to the colonization of land and the establishment of modern sedimentological systems; their rise seemingly accompanied the diversification of early embryophytes and the vegetation of the terrestrial biosphere.

Item Type:Article
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Publisher statement:This is the accepted version of the following article: Smith, M. R. (2016). Cord-forming Palaeozoic fungi in terrestrial assemblages. Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society, 180(4): 452-460, which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance With Wiley Terms and Conditions for self-archiving.
Date accepted:18 January 2016
Date deposited:18 January 2016
Date of first online publication:02 March 2016
Date first made open access:02 March 2017

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