The Heavy Links between Geological Events and Vascular Plants Evolution: A Brief Outline

Int J Evol Biol. 2016;2016:9264357. doi: 10.1155/2016/9264357. Epub 2016 Feb 4.


Since the rise of photosynthesis, life has influenced terrestrial atmosphere, particularly the O2 and the CO2 content (the latter being originally more than 95%), changing the chemistry of waters, atmosphere, and soils. Billions of years after, a far offspring of these first unicellular forms conquered emerging lands, not only completely changing landscape, but also modifying geological cycles of deposition and erosion, many chemical and physical characteristics of soils and fresh waters, and, more, the cycle of various elements. So, there are no doubts that vascular plants modified geology; but it is true that also geology has affected (and, more, has driven) plant evolution. New software, PyRate, has determined vascular plant origin and diversification through a Bayesian analysis of fossil record from Silurian to today, particularly observing their origination and extinction rate. A comparison between PyRate data and geological history suggests that geological events massively influenced plant evolution and that also the rise of nonflowering seed plants and the fast diffusion of flowering plants can be explained, almost partly, with the environmental condition changes induced by geological phenomena.

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