researchers have discovered fossils of about a billion-year-old fungi. It is by far the oldest clearly dated proof of living beings. Ourasphaira giraldae is more than half a billion years older than previously found fungal fossils.

A group of Corentin Loron from the University of liège (Belgium) found numerous specimens of the fungus in shale from the North-West of Canada.

“As O. giraldae is conserved in the shallow-water estuary shale of the Grassy Bay Formation, has lived this fungus may be in an estuary environment,” the researchers write in the journal “Nature”. The accumulation of organic waste products of other living beings in this area, you might have that meant that the fungus could grow well and thrive. O. giralda has, according to the researchers, the greatest Similarity with a fungal group, which also includes the Ascomycetes and the stand mushrooms.

Among other things, by the degradation of organic substances, as a Partner in a symbiosis, and by the binding of phosphate fungi play a key role in biological cycles. You could also have an important role in the conquest of the country played, the researchers write. “The subsequent colonization of land by fungi could symbiosis in the colonization of Land by plants through Root and soil processing be preceded and supported.” Mushrooms have created ecological niches, the soil improved, and the absorption of nutrients and the upper increased terrestrial productivity.

Loron and colleagues determined the age of the fossils to the underlying layer with the uranium-lead Dating to about a billion and ten million years. With the Rhenium-Osmium Dating of organic Material from the layer over the fossil record to approximately 892 million-year estimates. The petrified fungal Ourasphaira giraldae is therefore about 0.9 up to a billion years old. The date clearly as the fungi identified fossils come to an age of 410 million years (location: Scotland) and 450 million years ago (location: Wisconsin, USA).

That it is indeed a fungus, evidence of the scientists on the basis of the analysis of the shapes and fine structures as well as spectroscopic measurements. In the two-layered cell wall, the researchers showed by means of spectroscopy, the organic substances of Chitin and Chitosan. Cellulose, the main component of plant cell walls, not present in the cell wall of Ourasphaira giraldae.

The scientists believe that by improving the methods of investigation in the future more of very old fossils of fungi might be found.

dpa