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Scanning Electron Microscopy and Synchrotron Radiation X-Ray Tomographic Microscopy of 330 Million Year Old Charcoalified Seed Fern Fertile Organs

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  16 March 2009

Andrew C. Scott
Affiliation:
Department of Earth Sciences, Royal Holloway University of London, Egham, Surrey TW20 0EX, UK
Jean Galtier
Affiliation:
CIRAD AMAP TA 40/PS2, Bl. de la Lironde, F-34398 Montpellier cedex 5, France
Neil J. Gostling
Affiliation:
Department of Earth Sciences, University of Bristol, Wills Memorial Building, Queens Road, Bristol BS8 1RJ, UK Department of Biological Sciences, SUNY, Oswego, NY 13126, USA
Selena Y. Smith
Affiliation:
Department of Earth Sciences, Royal Holloway University of London, Egham, Surrey TW20 0EX, UK
Margaret E. Collinson
Affiliation:
Department of Earth Sciences, Royal Holloway University of London, Egham, Surrey TW20 0EX, UK
Marco Stampanoni
Affiliation:
Swiss Light Source, Paul Scherrer Institut, CH-5232 Villigen, Switzerland Institute for Biomedical Engineering, University and ETH Zurich, 8092 Zurich, Switzerland
Federica Marone
Affiliation:
Swiss Light Source, Paul Scherrer Institut, CH-5232 Villigen, Switzerland
Philip C.J. Donoghue
Affiliation:
Department of Earth Sciences, University of Bristol, Wills Memorial Building, Queens Road, Bristol BS8 1RJ, UK
Stefan Bengtson
Affiliation:
Department of Palaeozoology, Swedish Museum of Natural History, Box 50007, SE-104 05 Stockholm, Sweden
Corresponding
E-mail address:

Abstract

Abundant charcoalified seed fern (pteridosperm) pollen organs and ovules have been recovered from Late Viséan (Mississippian 330 Ma) limestones from Kingswood, Fife, Scotland. To overcome limitations of data collection from these tiny, sometimes unique, fossils, we have combined low vacuum scanning electron microscopy on uncoated specimens with backscatter detector and synchrotron radiation X-ray tomographic microscopy utilizing the Materials Science and TOMCAT beamlines at the Swiss Light Source of the Paul Scherrer Institut. In combination these techniques improve upon traditional cellulose acetate peel sectioning because they enable study of external morphology and internal anatomy in multiple planes of section on a single specimen that is retained intact. The pollen organ Melissiotheca shows a basal parenchymatous cushion bearing more than 100 sporangia on the distal face. Digital sections show the occurrence of pollen in some sporangia. The described ovule is new and has eight integumentary lobes that are covered in spirally arranged glandular hairs. Virtual longitudinal sections reveal the lobes are free above the pollen chamber. Results are applied in taxonomy and will subsequently contribute to our understanding of the former diversity and evolution of ovules, seeds, and pollen organs in the seed ferns, the first seed-bearing plants to conquer the land.

Type
Biological Applications
Copyright
Copyright © Microscopy Society of America 2009

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Footnotes

Current address: Museum of Paleontology, University of Michigan, 1109 Geddes Road, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1079, USA

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Scanning Electron Microscopy and Synchrotron Radiation X-Ray Tomographic Microscopy of 330 Million Year Old Charcoalified Seed Fern Fertile Organs
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