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When the Invasion of Land FailedThe Legacy of the Devonian Extinctions$
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George McGhee,

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780231160575

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231160575.001.0001

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The Plants Establish a Beachhead

The Plants Establish a Beachhead

Chapter:
(p.27) Chapter 2 The Plants Establish a Beachhead
Source:
When the Invasion of Land Failed
Author(s):

George R. McGhee

Publisher:
Columbia University Press
DOI:10.7312/columbia/9780231160575.003.0002

This chapter describes the changes that earliest plants had undergone in order to live on land. During the Phanerozoic Eon, the ozone shield of Earth had only been partially formed. Thus, for plants to leave the waters and spread onto dry land, the radiation flux on land had to be low enough for them not to suffer radiation burns. Earliest microbial land plants then evolved a series of adaptations to prevent or at least slow down the rate of water loss. They grew specialized pore regions in their external tissues, which they could open to exchange carbon dioxide and oxygen with the atmosphere when needed, and close to prevent further water loss to the atmosphere when gas exchange was not needed. Also, they developed tissue structures that were strong enough to resist the force of gravity, allowing the growth of a stem that could rise vertically.

Keywords:   early plants, microbial land plants, Phanerozoic Eon, Earth, carbon dioxide, oxygen, radiation flux, ozone

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