Evolution of fungi

As fungi rarely fossilise, speculation on their evolution is necessarily limited.

Evidence suggests that the kingdom diverged from other life around , (Wang et al., 1999) with the glomeleans branching from the "higher fungi" at ~, according to DNA analysis. (Schüßler et al., 2001; Tehler et al., 2000) Fungi probably colonised the land during the Cambrian, over , (Taylor & Osborn, 1996) but fossils only become uncontroversial and common during the Devonian, .

Early fungi

A rich diversity of fungi is known from the lower Devonian Rhynie chert, an earlier record is absent. Since fungi don't biomineralise, they do not readily enter the fossil record; only three claims of early fungi. One from the Ordovician has been dismissed on the grounds that it lacks any distinctly fungal features, and is held by many to be contamination; the position of a "probable" Proterozoic fungus is still not established, and it may represent a stem group fungus. There is also a case for a fungal affinity for the enigmatic microfossil Ornatifilum. Since the fungi form a sister group to the animals, the two lineages must have diverged before the first animal lineages, which are known from fossils as early as the Ediacaran.

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