Botanica e micologia

Variability of in situ spores in some leptosporangiate ferns from the Triassic in Italy and Austria

Hendrik Nowak, Evelyn Kustatscher, Guido Roghi, Johanna H.A. Van Konijnenburg-van Cittert

Spores or pollen from a single species or even an individual plant or sporangium may vary in morphology and size to a point that equivalent forms found dispersed in the sediment have been described as different species or even genera. In addition, not all these organs were mature at the moment of burial, and therefore they do not always contain completely developed microspores. To understand these variations better, we studied the intraspecific and interspecific morphological variability of in situ spores of leptosporangiate ferns (belonging to the Osmundales, possible Osmundales, and Gleicheniales) from the Triassic of Europe. The material comes from the Anisian Kühwiesenkopf/Monte Prà della Vacca flora of Italy and the Carnian Lunz flora of Austria. Our analysis is aimed at distinguishing the normal range of variability, differentiating developmental stages, and determining the frequency of abnormal spores. Results show significant variation in both size and surface ornamentation of spores from the same sporangia, as well as between sporangia and individuals, which may have various causes. Abortive spores are usually rare but occur with higher frequency in different samples from some specimens, suggesting that they can serve to identify systemic defects in the plants.

Fossil plants Ferns Spores Osmundales Gleicheniales Dipteridaceae

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