Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Unique chromosomes preserved in Swedish fossil

Date:
March 21, 2014
Source:
Lund University
Summary:
Researchers have made a unique discovery in a well-preserved fern that lived 180 million years ago. Both undestroyed cell nuclei and individual chromosomes have been found in the plant fossil, thanks to its sudden burial in a volcanic eruption.

This is a fern fossil.
Credit: Benjamin Bomfleur

Researchers from Lund University and the Swedish Museum of Natural History have made a unique discovery in a well-preserved fern that lived 180 million years ago. Both undestroyed cell nuclei and individual chromosomes have been found in the plant fossil, thanks to its sudden burial in a volcanic eruption.

The well-preserved fossil of a fern from the southern Swedish county of Skåne is now attracting attention in the research community. The plant lived around 180 million years ago, during the Jurassic period, when Skåne was a tropical region where the fauna was dominated by dinosaurs, and volcanoes were a common feature of the landscape. The fossilised fern has been studied using different microscopic techniques, X-rays and geochemical analysis. The examinations reveal that the plant was preserved instantaneously, before it had started to decompose. It was buried abruptly under a volcanic lava flow.

"The preservation happened so quickly that some cells have even been preserved during different stages of cell division," said Vivi Vajda, Professor of Geology at Lund University.

Thanks to the circumstances of the fern's sudden death, the sensitive components of the cells have been preserved. The researchers have found cell nuclei, cell membranes and even individual chromosomes. Such structures are extremely rare finds in fossils, observed Vivi Vajda.

"This naturally leads us to think that there must be more to discover. It isn't hard to imagine what else could be encapsulated in the lava flows at Korsaröd in Skåne," said Vivi Vajda.

Professor Vajda has carried out the study with two researchers from the Swedish Museum of Natural History, Benjamin Bomfleur and Stephen McLoughlin. The fern belonged to the family Osmundaceae, Royal Ferns. In modern times, royal ferns grow in the wild in Sweden and are also a common garden plant. Living representatives of this family are very similar in appearance to the Jurassic fossil, which suggests that only limited evolutionary change has taken place over the millennia. By comparing the size of the cell nuclei in the fossilised plant with its living relatives, the researchers have been able to show that the royal ferns have outstanding evolutionary stability.

"Royal Ferns look essentially the same now as they did during the Jurassic Period, and are therefore an excellent example of what we call a living fossil," said Vivi Vajda.

Professor Vajda has also dated the rocks surrounding the fossil by studying pollen and spores preserved in these rocks. Their analysis revealed that the lava flows are around 180 million years old, from the early Jurassic Period. These results have considerably refined previous radiometric dating conducted on nearby volcano cones. In addition, the research study shows that spores from royal ferns, as well as pollen from coniferous trees, including cypress and cycad, are found in large quantities in the volcanic rock. This is evidence of varied vegetation and a hot, humid climate at the time when the area was engulfed by a disastrous volcanic eruption.

The unique fern fossil was collected in the 1960s, near Korsaröd in central Skåne, by farmer Gustav Andersson who donated the fossil to the Swedish Museum of Natural History. The fossil remained forgotten in the museum's collections for over 40 years before it came to the attention of the researchers. The research findings have now been published in the latest issue of the journal Science.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Lund University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. B. Bomfleur, S. McLoughlin, V. Vajda. Fossilized Nuclei and Chromosomes Reveal 180 Million Years of Genomic Stasis in Royal Ferns. Science, 2014; 343 (6177): 1376 DOI: 10.1126/science.1249884

Cite This Page:

Lund University. "Unique chromosomes preserved in Swedish fossil." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 March 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140321101730.htm>.
Lund University. (2014, March 21). Unique chromosomes preserved in Swedish fossil. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140321101730.htm
Lund University. "Unique chromosomes preserved in Swedish fossil." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140321101730.htm (accessed October 2, 2014).

Share This



More Fossils & Ruins News

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Japan Celebrates 'bullet Train' Anniversary

Raw: Japan Celebrates 'bullet Train' Anniversary

AP (Oct. 1, 2014) — A ceremony marking 50 years since Japan launched its Shinkansen bullet train was held on Wednesday in Tokyo. The latest model can travel from Tokyo to Osaka, a distance of 319 miles, in two hours and 25 minutes. (Oct. 1) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Battle of New Orleans Cannon Gets New Carriage

Battle of New Orleans Cannon Gets New Carriage

AP (Sep. 30, 2014) — A Spanish cannon used in the Battle of New Orleans and weighing nearly 3 tons was lowered Tuesday by pulleys, chains and muscle onto a new gun carriage like one that might have held it once aboard a navy ship. (Sept. 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
2,000 Year Old Pre-Inca Cloak on Display in Lima

2,000 Year Old Pre-Inca Cloak on Display in Lima

AFP (Sep. 27, 2014) — A 2,000 year-old Pre-Inca cloak that is believed to represent an agricultural calendar of the Paracas culture is on display in Lima. Duration: 00:39 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Original Mozart Sonata Manuscript Found in Budapest

Original Mozart Sonata Manuscript Found in Budapest

AFP (Sep. 26, 2014) — Considered lost for over two centuries, the original manuscript of one of the most famous works of Mozart's Sonata in A major has been uncovered in a library in Budapest. Duration: 01:04 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins