Study of the Histology of Leafy Axes and Male Cones of Glenrosa carentonensis sp. nov. (Cenomanian Flints of Charente-Maritime, France) Using Synchrotron Microtomography Linked with Palaeoecology

PLoS One. 2015 Aug 19;10(8):e0134515. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0134515. eCollection 2015.


We report exceptionally well-preserved plant remains ascribed to the extinct conifer Glenrosa J. Watson et H.L. Fisher emend. V. Srinivasan inside silica-rich nodules from the Cenomanian of the Font-de-Benon quarry, Charente-Maritime, western France. Remains are preserved in three dimensions and mainly consist of fragmented leafy axes. Pollen cones of this conifer are for the first time reported and in some cases remain connected to leafy stems. Histology of Glenrosa has not previously been observed; here, most of internal tissues and cells are well-preserved and allow us to describe a new species, Glenrosa carentonensis sp. nov., using propagation phase-contrast X-ray synchrotron microtomography, a non-destructive technique. Leafy axes consist of characteristic helically arranged leaves bearing stomatal crypts. Glenrosa carentonensis sp. nov. differs from the other described species in developing a phyllotaxy 8/21, claw-shaped leaves, a thicker cuticle, a higher number of papillae and stomata per crypt. Pollen cones consist of peltate, helically arranged microsporophylls, each of them bearing 6-7 pollen sacs. The new high resolution tomographic approach tested here allows virtual palaeohistology on plants included inside a dense rock to be made. Most tissues of Glenrosa carentonensis sp. nov. are described. Lithological and palaeontological data combined with xerophytic features of Glenrosa carentonensis sp. nov. suggest that this conifer has been adapted to survive in harsh and instable environments such as coastal area exposed to hot, dry conditions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biological Evolution
  • Extinction, Biological*
  • Fossils / anatomy & histology
  • Fossils / ultrastructure*
  • France
  • Paleontology / instrumentation
  • Paleontology / methods
  • Plant Leaves / anatomy & histology
  • Plant Leaves / ultrastructure*
  • Synchrotrons
  • Tracheophyta / anatomy & histology
  • Tracheophyta / ultrastructure*
  • X-Ray Microtomography / instrumentation
  • X-Ray Microtomography / methods*

Grants and funding

This work was supported by funding from Géosciences Rennes, CNRS-UMR6118, to J-DM, DN; and the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, to J-DM, PT. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.