Evolution and palaeophysiology of the vascular system and other means of long-distance transport
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Biological Sciences
One contribution of 18 to a discussion meeting issue 'The Rhynie cherts: our earliest terrestrial ecosystem revisited'. Photolithotrophic growth on land using atmospheric CO 2 inevitably involves H 2 O vapour loss. Embryophytes greater than or equal to 100 mm tall are homoiohydric and endohydric with mass flow of aqueous solution through the xylem in tracheophytes. Structural details in Rhynie sporophytes enable modelling of the hydraulics of H 2 O supply to the transpiring surface, and the
... urface, and the potential for gas exchange with the Devonian atmosphere. Xylem carrying H 2 O under tension involves programmed cell death, rigid cell walls and embolism repair; fossils provide little evidence on these functions other than the presence of lignin. The phenylalanine ammonia lyase essential for lignin synthesis came from horizontal gene transfer. Rhynie plants lack endodermes, limiting regulation of the supply of soil nutrients to shoots. The transfer of organic solutes from photosynthetic sites to growing and storage tissues involves mass flow through phloem in extant tracheophytes. Rhynie plants show little evidence of phloem; possible alternatives for transport of organic solutes are discussed. Extant examples of the arbuscular mycorrhizas found in Rhynie plants exchange soil-derived nutrients (especially P) for plantderived organic matter, involving bidirectional mass flow along the hyphae. The aquatic cyanobacteria and the charalean Palaeonitella at Rhynie also have long-distance (relative to the size of the organism) transport.