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Aglaophyton major was the sporophyte generation of Edwards and by Kidston and Lang were diploid, sporo-
a diplohaplontic, pre-vascular, axial, free-sporing land phytes. The plant was originally interpreted as a tra-
plant of the Lower Devonian (Pragian stage, around 410 cheophyte, because the stem has a simple central vas-
million years ago). It had anatomical features intermedi- cular cylinder or protostele,[2] but more recent inter-
ate between those of the bryophytes and vascular plants pretations in the light of additional data indicated that
or tracheophytes. Rhynia major had water-conducting tissue lacking the
secondary thickening bars seen in the xylem of Rhynia
A. major was rst described by Kidston and Lang in 1920
as the new species Rhynia major.[2] The species is known gwynne-vaughanii, more like the water-conducting sys-
only from the Rhynie chert in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, tem (hydrome) of moss sporophytes. Edwards[1] reinter-
where it grew in the vicinity of a silica-rich hot spring, preted the species as non-vascular plant and renamed it
together with a number of associated vascular plants such Aglaophyton major.
as a smaller species Rhynia gwynne-vaughanii which may Aglaophyton is among the rst plants known to have had
be interpreted as a representative of the ancestors of mod- a mycorrhizal relationship with fungi,[4] which formed
ern vascular plants and Asteroxylon mackei, which was an arbuscules in a well-dened zone in the cortex of its
ancestor of modern clubmosses (Lycopsida). stems. Aglaophyton lacked roots, and like other rootless
land plants of the Silurian and early Devonian may have
relied on mycorrhizal fungi for acquisition of water and
1 Description nutrients from the soil.
The male gametophyte of the species has been formally
described,[5] which was assigned to a new form taxon Ly-
onophyton rhyniensis, but is now properly referred to as
an Aglaophyton gametophyte. The Rhynie chert bears
many examples of male and female gametophytes, which
are loosely similar in their construction to the sporophyte
phase, down to bearing rhizoids.[6]

2 Taxonomy
Aglaophyton major was rst described as Rhynia major
by Kidston and Lang in 1920.[2] In 1986 D.S. Edwards
re-examined fossil specimens and reported that they did
not contain true vascular tissue, but rather conducting tis-
Aglaophyton major sue more similar to that of bryophytes. As the diagno-
sis of Rhynia was that it was a vascular plant, he cre-
The stems of Aglaophyton were round in cross-section, ated a new genus, Aglaophyton, for this species.[7] (The
smooth, unornamented, and up to about 6mm in diam- other species of Rhynia,R. gwynne-vaughanii, was not af-
eter. Kidston and Lang[2] interpreted the plant as grow- fected.) As Rhynia major the species had been placed in
ing upright, to about 50 cm in height, but Edwards[1] has the rhyniophytes, but no alternative higher level classi-
re-interpreted it as having prostrate habit, with shorter cation was proposed for the new genus.[1]
aerial axes of about 15 cm height. The axes branched
dichotomously, the aerial axes branching at a compar-
atively wide angle of up to 90, and were terminated 2.1 Classication
with elliptical, thick-walled sporangia, which when ma-
ture, opened by spiral slits, so that the sporangia appear Phylum Aglaophyta [Lyonophyta]
to be spiral in form.[3] Sporangia contained many identi-
cal spores (isospores) bearing trilete marks. The spores Class Aglaophytopsida
may therefore be interpreted as meiospores, the product Order Aglaophytales] [Lyonophytales
of meiotic divisions, and thus the plants described by Doweld 2001]


Family Aglaophytaceae [Lyonophy- Academy of Sciences of the United States of Amer-

taceae Doweld 2001] ica, 102 (16): 58927, Bibcode:2005PNAS..102.5892T,
Genus Aglaophyton Edwards 1986 doi:10.1073/pnas.0501985102, PMC 556298 , PMID
[Lyonophyton Remy & Remy 1980 15809414.
form taxa- male gametophyte, thal- [7] Strictly the name should have been Aglaophyton majus,
lus] as -phyton is neuter and the neuter of Latin comparative
Species Aglaophyton major (Kid- adjectives ends in -us.
ston & Lang 1920) Edwards 1986
[8] Crane, P.R.; Herendeen, P. & Friis, E.M. (2004), Fossils
[Rhynia major Kidston & Lang
and plant phylogeny, American Journal of Botany,
1920; Lyonophyton rhyniensis
91 (10): 168399, doi:10.3732/ajb.91.10.1683, PMID
Remy & Remy 1980 form taxa- 21652317, retrieved 2011-01-27
male gametophyte, thallus]

2.2 Phylogeny 4 External links

In 2004, Crane et al. published a cladogram for the Cladogram from Crane, Herendeen & Friis 2004
polysporangiophytes which places Aglaophyton as a sis-
ter of the vascular plants (tracheophytes), with the
Horneophytopsida being sister to both.[8] The basis of the
cladogram is that Aglaophyton has more developed con-
ducting tissue than the Horneophytopsida, but does not
have true vascular tissue.

3 References
[1] Edwards, David S. (1986), "Aglaophyton major, a non-
vascular land-plant from the Devonian Rhynie Chert,
Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society, 93 (2): 173
204, doi:10.1111/j.1095-8339.1986.tb01020.x

[2] Kidston, R. & Lang, W.H. (1920), On Old Red Sand-

stone plants showing structure, from the Rhynie Chert
Bed, Aberdeenshire. Part II. Additional notes on Rhynia
gwynne-vaughani, Kidston and Lang; with descriptions
of Rhynia major, n.sp. and Hornea lignieri, n.g., n.sp.,
Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, 52: 603
627, doi:10.1017/s0080456800004488

[3] Remy, W. & Hass, H. (1996), New information on ga-

metophytes and sporophytes of Aglaophyton major and
inferences about possible environmental adaptations, Re-
view of Palaeobotany and Palynology, 90 (3-4): 175193,

[4] Remy W, Taylor TN, Hass H, Kerp H (1994), 4

hundred million year old vesicular-arbuscular myc-
orrhizae, Proceedings of the National Academy of
Sciences of the United States of America, 91 (25):
1184111843, Bibcode:1994PNAS...9111841R,
doi:10.1073/pnas.91.25.11841, PMC 45331 , PMID

[5] Remy, W & Remy, R (1980) Lyonophyton rhyniensis

n.gen. et nov. spec., ein Gametophyt aus dem Chert von
Rhynie (Unterdevon, Schottland). Argumenta Palaeob-
otanica, 6, 37-72

[6] Taylor, T. N.; Kerp, H; Hass, H (2005), Life

history biology of early land plants: Deciphering
the gametophyte phase, Proceedings of the National

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