American Journal of Botany | VOL. 107
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52 million years old Eucalyptus flower sheds more than pollen grains.

Publication Date Dec 1, 2020

Abstract

Fossils provide fundamental evidence of the evolutionary processes that crafted today's biodiversity and consequently for understanding life on Earth. We report the finding of Myrtaceidites eucalyptoides pollen grains preserved within the anthers of a 52-million-year-old Eucalyptus flower collected at Laguna del Hunco locality of Argentinean Patagonia and discuss its implications in understanding the evolutionary history of the iconic Australian genus Eucalyptus. Pollen grains were extracted from the flower's anthers and were then observed under light microscopy and scanning electron microscopy. The phylogenetic position of the fossil was investigated by adding pollen data to a previously published total-evidence matrix and analyzing it using parsimony. We erect the species Eucalyptus xoshemium for the fossil flower. Pollen extracted from E. xoshemium belongs to the species Myrtaceidites eucalyptoides, which, until now, was only known as dispersed pollen. The numerous pollen grains recovered from the single flower allowed estimation of M. eucalyptoides' variability. Results of the phylogenetic analysis reinforce the position of this fossil within crown group Eucalyptus. The discovery of these pollen grains within a Patagonian Eucalyptus fossil flower confirms the hypothesis that Myrtaceidites eucalyptoides represents fossil pollen in the Eucalyptus lineage, extends the geographic and stratigraphic fossil pollen record, and supports an earlier age for crown-group eucalypts.

Concepts

Pollen Grains Today's Biodiversity Eucalyptus Flower Fossil Flower Numerous Pollen Flower's Anthers Single Flower Dispersed Pollen Crown Group Fossil Pollen

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