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Physiological Evolution Of Lower Embryophytes: Adaptations To The Terrestrial Environment

J. Raven, D. Edwards
Published 2004 · Biology

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Publisher Summary This chapter examines the differences in physiology among embryophytes and their algal ancestors, with particular emphasis on their water relations. The embryophytes have very significant variations in water relations and the chapter considers their evolution within the embryophytes as well as the evolution of embryophyte water relations from those of their algal ancestors. The chapter also examines the relationship of the likely evolution of embryophyte water relations to cladistic analyses of embryophyte phylogeny and to the fossil record. The physiological changes that occurred in the evolution from algal ancestors to the different grades of organization of embryophytes has been determined from the physiology of extant plants in relation to their phylogeny as determined by cladistic analysis and from the order in which anatomical features appeared in the fossil record. The fossil record of embryophytes also reveals certain characteristics of organisms that are not found today. The fossil record is not helpful in providing some information such as desiccation tolerance or intolerance, except by applying an empirical correlation from extant plants that no embryophyte more than 1 meter in height is desiccation tolerant in the vegetative phase. Overall, lines of evidence indicate that the earliest embryophytes were desiccation tolerant and poikilohydric.
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