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8.11: Fungi Evolution

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    12204
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    What were early fungi like?

    Early fungi probably lived in water. And they were most likely single-celled organisms. Maybe they lived on dead and decaying material. Obviously, at least in overall size and structure, a mold is very different than a mushroom. Could early fungi have been similar to a mold?

    Evolution of Fungi

    DNA evidence suggests that almost all fungi have a single common ancestor. The earliest fungi may have evolved about 600 million years ago or even earlier. They were probably aquatic organisms with a flagellum. Fungi first colonized the land at least 460 million years ago, around the same time as plants. Fossils of terrestrial fungi date back almost 400 million years (see Figure below). Starting about 250 million years ago, the fossil record shows fungi were abundant in many places. They may have been the dominant life forms on Earth at that time.

    f-d_cf50dcd42e2f3b335f13985eccd506af1ca159c8205f31b85e33a247+IMAGE_THUMB_POSTCARD_TINY+IMAGE_THUMB_POSTCARD_TINY.jpg

    Summary

    • Almost all fungi have a single common ancestor.
    • The earliest fungi may have evolved about 600 million years ago.
    • Fungi colonized land at least 460 million years ago.
    • By 250 million years ago, they may have been the dominant life forms on Earth.

    Review

    1. Summarize the evolution of fungi.
    Image Reference Attributions
    f-d_4de50ad32d26dc90d6238cd585be3ce326d47999ef0bcdf7eb76b4c3+IMAGE_TINY+IMAGE_TINY.jpg [Figure 1] License: CC BY-NC
    f-d_cf50dcd42e2f3b335f13985eccd506af1ca159c8205f31b85e33a247+IMAGE_THUMB_SMALL_TINY+IMAGE_THUMB_SMALL_TINY.jpg [Figure 2] Credit: User:Jpwilson/Wikipedia
    Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Rhynie_chert.jpg
    License: Public Domain
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