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The origins of land plant complexity: interpreting development in the Devonian

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Thea Edith Kongsted.

During the Devonian period c. 420-360 million year ago land plants exploded in complexity, from tiny leafless axes to giant trees, forming the first forests. The diversification of plants in the Devonian therefore transformed the face of the Earth into the green planet we see today. However, the developmental innovations that enabled this diversification and the origin of key plant organs such as leaves and roots remains poorly understood. Comparative investigation of genes and development in living species offers crucial insights into these ancient events. However, 400 million years of subsequent evolution and rife convergence means that fossils still hold the most important lines of evidence for how roots and leaves evolved. In this talk I will outline how taking a combined approach studying fossil plants alongside developmental and genetic networks in living species provides the best approach to understand these key events. Finally, I will describe the importance of fossils with exceptional preservation for giving us a unique glimpse into development in the past.

This talk is part of the Evolution and Development Seminar Series series.

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