Fossil ectomycorrhizae from the Middle Eocene

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  • Fossil ectomycorrhizae were found recently among permineralized plant remains in the middle Eocene Princeton chert of British Columbia. The ectomycorrhizae are associated with roots of Pinus and have a Hartig net that extends to the endodermis, a pseudoparenchymatous mantle, and contiguous extramatrical hyphae that are simple-septate. The mycorrhizal rootlets lack root hairs and dichotomize repeatedly to form large, coralloid clusters. Reproductive structures are absent. Based on the morphological characteristics, and the identity of the host, the closely related basidiomycete genera Rhizopogon and Suillus are suggested as comparable extant mycorrhizal fungi. These exquisitely preserved specimens represent the first unequivocal occurrence of fossil ectomycorrhizae and demonstrate that such associations were well-established at least 50 million years ago.

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    Article (Published)
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    This version of this article is open access and can be downloaded and shared. The original author(s) and source must be cited.
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    • Lepage, B., Currah, R., Stockey, R., & Rothwell, G. (1997). Fossil ectomycorrhizae from the Middle Eocene. American Journal of Botany, 84(3), 410.