CURVALIS, Raw (KOIN) — Researchers at Oregon State University have discovered seeds sprouting from a pinecone covered in amber.
This phenomenon is caused by a rare plant condition called early germination, in which the seeds germinate before they emerge from the fruit, according to the university.
George Poinar Jr. with Oregon State College of Science He published an article in the Journal of Historical Biology describing a pine cone – about 40 million years old – surrounded by Baltic sea amber, where many embryonic stems appear.
“The creation of germination is for the development of all plants, and usually seed germination occurs in the soil after the seed has fallen,” Poinar said. “We tend to associate life — embryonic development while inside the parents — with animals and forget that it sometimes happens in plants.”
He added that these events often involve angiosperms. They indirectly or indirectly provide most of the food that people eat, have flowers, and produce seeds that are surrounded by fruit.
“Seed germination in fruit is very common in plants that lack seed dormancy, such as tomatoes, peppers and grapefruit, and occurs for a variety of reasons,” Poinar said. “But it is rare in gymnosperms.”
According to the university, gymnosperms, like conifers, produce “naked” or unenclosed seeds.
Early breeding of pine cones is so rare, Poinar said, that only one natural example of this disease, dating back to 1965, has been described in the scientific literature.
He noted, “This is part of what makes this discovery so intriguing, even after it is the first fossil record of plant vitality to include seed germination.” “I find it fascinating that the seeds of this little pine start to germinate inside the cone and that the buds can grow so far before they perish in the resin.”
The tips of the shoots include groups of needles, some in bundles of five, Poinar said. This links the fossil to the extinct pine species Pinus cembrifolia, which has already been described from Baltic amber.
He added that pine cones in Baltic amber are not uncommon.
“Objects shown are appreciated by collectors, and because the conical scales are solid, they are generally very well preserved and look lifelike,” the university said.
Poinar explained that life in plants usually emerges in two ways, but early germination is the more common of the two, as occurs when the onion emerges directly from the flower head of the mother plant.
“In the vivid condition of the seeds in this fossil, the seeds produced fully visible embryonic stems in amber,” he said. “It is not known whether these stems, called hypocotyls, appeared before the cone was covered with amber. However, from their position, it appears that some, if not most of the growth occurred after the pine cone fell into the resin.
Research on viability in existing gymnosperms suggests that the condition may be related to winter frost, according to Ohio State University. Poinar said a slight frost could have occurred if the Baltic Amber Forest had a temperate, moist and warm environment, it was said.
“This is the first fossil record of seed viability in plants, but it is likely that this case occurred a little earlier than the Eocene record,” he added. “There is no reason why plant life hundreds of millions of years ago could not have occurred in ancient spore plants such as ferns and lycopods.”
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