truffler1635 at truffler1635 at
Sun Oct 22 23:18:41 EST 2000

In article <20001022190546.09234.00001109 at>,
  rcjohnsen at (Rcjohnsen) wrote:
> Researchers report the discovery of fossilized fungal hyphae and
> spores from the Ordovician era, with an age of approximately 460
> million years ago. These fossils strongly resemble modern
> arbuscular mycorrhyzal fungi and indicate that Glomales-like
> fungi were present at a time when the land flora most likely only
> consisted of plants on the bryophytic level. These fungi may thus
> have played a crucial role in facilitating the colonization of
> land by plants, and the fossils support molecular estimates of
> fungal phylogeny that place the origin of the major groups of
> terrestrial fungi approximately 600 million years ago.
> (Science 15 Sep 00 289:1920)
Interesting! I haven't been aware that the date of origin had been pushed
back another 160 million years to the Ordovician era. The last I had
heard, they were reported from club mosses in the Age of Fishes, about
300 million years old, from fossils in British Columbia. BTW, those fungi
were named Glomites, which are still similar to Glomus (Glomales family),
which are actually similar to truffles of today. Glomus are fairly common
endomycorrhizal fungi found with almost all plant life. There are a very
few place on Earth where Glomus are rare. In these areas, corn (for
example) will germinate, grow poorly for 2-3 weeks, then suddenly expire.
Mycorrhizal fungi act as nutrient gatherers and transport water to the
host plants.

According to "Key to the Spores of the Genera of Hypogeous Fungi of North
America, with Special Reference to Animal Mycophagy: (Ten Speed Press, c.
1989) Glomus are members of the Endogonaceae Family. Few of these
truffle-like fungi form visible fruiting bodies, but Glomus macrocarpus
is an exception.

Daniel B. Wheeler

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