Conantiopteris schuchmanii, gen. et sp. nov., and the Role of Fossils in Resolving the Phylogeny of Cyatheaceae s.l.
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- Lantz, T., Rothwell, G. & Stockey, R. J Plant Res (1999) 112: 361. doi:10.1007/PL00013890
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gen. et sp. nov. The specimen, 23.2 cm long and 11.7 cm wide, shows helically arranged persistent frond bases embedded in adventitious roots, and is clothed by multicellular trichomes. A parenchymatous pith with mucilaginous cells and sclerotic nests is surrounded by an amphiphloic distyostele, parenchymatous inner cortex, and outer sclerenchymatous cortex. Sclerenchyma also surrounds the cauline vasculature and leaf traces. Medullary and cortical bundles are absent. Phloem contains both axially elongated and tangential sieve elements. Frond bases are oval in outline with three vascular bundles, including an undulating abaxial arc and an adaxial pair. Protoxylem of the stipe is endarch and is associated with cavity parenchyma. These characters are indicative of tree fern affinities. A cladistic analysis using trunk characters of both living and fossil tree ferns was conducted to help establish relationships of the new species and other fossil ferns, and to test hypotheses of general tree fern relationships. Additional analyses of living taxa only were also performed. Results from the analysis using both living and fossil taxa compare favorably with those that included only living species when either morphological characters or molecular sequences of the chloroplast gene rbcL are utilized. Although there are variations in the topologies of the various trees, results indicate that the new genus is nested among a paraphyletic assemblage of dicksoniaceous, lophosoriaceous, and metaxyaceous species that subtend a monophyletic Cyatheaceae s.s.