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Data from: Constraining the role of early land plants in Early Palaeozoic weathering and global cooling

Citation

Quirk, Joe et al. (2015), Data from: Constraining the role of early land plants in Early Palaeozoic weathering and global cooling, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.6dh6g

Abstract

How the colonization of terrestrial environments by early land plants over 400 Ma influenced rock weathering, the biogeochemical cycling of carbon and phosphorus, and climate in the Palaeozoic is uncertain. Here we show experimentally that mineral weathering by liverworts—an extant lineage of early land plants—partnering arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi, like those in 410 Ma-old early land plant fossils, amplified calcium weathering from basalt grains threefold to sevenfold, relative to plant-free controls. Phosphate weathering by mycorrhizal liverworts was amplified 9–13-fold over plant-free controls, compared with fivefold to sevenfold amplification by liverworts lacking fungal symbionts. Etching and trenching of phyllosilicate minerals increased with AM fungal network size and atmospheric CO2 concentration. Integration of grain-scale weathering rates over the depths of liverwort rhizoids and mycelia (0.1 m), or tree roots and mycelia (0.75 m), indicate early land plants with shallow anchorage systems were probably at least 10-fold less effective at enhancing the total weathering flux than later-evolving trees. This work challenges the suggestion that early land plants significantly enhanced total weathering and land-to-ocean fluxes of calcium and phosphorus, which have been proposed as a trigger for transient dramatic atmospheric CO2 sequestration and glaciations in the Ordovician.

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