Life on land: how plants colonised the terrestrial environment

Last updated: 23 Nov, 2016

The colonisation of the land by early plants was a key step in evolution, paving the way for life to diversify across the entire planet. Multidisciplinary researchers from the Life and Earth Sciences met in Bristol, UK, to discuss the latest advances in our understanding of this ancient process, which began around 470 million years ago. The outcomes of this meeting, the 38th New Phytologist Symposium, are summarised in a meeting report by Plackett and Coates (2016) in issue 212:4 of New Phytologist.


The meeting, entitled ‘Colonization of the terrestrial environment 2016’, built upon the success of a previous symposium and brought researchers together from around the world to share ideas on wide-ranging topics. Delegates discussed how and why land plants evolved from a single algal ancestor, their impacts on the terrestrial environment, and their roles in building early ecosystems, providing habitats for animals and forming mutually beneficial relationships with fungi. You can watch many of the recorded talks on our Youtube playlist.


Plackett and Coates (2016) also discuss the future challenges in the field, including the need to improve our understanding of the environmental impacts of early colonisation and the evolutionary processes that allowed descendants of a single lineage of algae to spread across the entire planet. Getting answers to these questions will require a highly multidisciplinary approach, drawing together many of the themes presented at the 38th New Phytologist Symposium.


The three-day symposium was supported by the New Phytologist Trust.


To find out more about the research discussed at the 38th New Phytologist Symposium, read the meeting report from Plackett and Coates (2016) in issue 212:4 of New Phytologist and the post on the New Phyt blog.


Sarah Jose