Describe the Evolutionary Developments That Enabled the Successful Colonisation of Terrestrial Habitat by the Early Plants

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Describe the evolutionary developments that enabled the successful colonisation of terrestrial habitat by the early plant?

Plants evolved from an aquatic algal ancestor during the Devonian period. The transition from water to land had some useful advantages. Land provided a good substrate with nutrient rich soils and there were no predators in form of herbivores and microbes. Carbon dioxide concentration in air was very high and readily diffuses in plants than when dissolved in water. Sunlight levels in air were very high and these conditions favoured photosynthesis (Raven et al, 1992). However life on land presented challenges that led to morphological adaptations and to the subsequent evolution of present day plants.
Life on earth presented problems of acquisition and distribution of nutrients, preservation of water support and reproduction. The earliest evolutionary adaptation was multicellularity, differentiation and specialisation of structures. The plants evolved an aerial structure that is photosynthetic and functions in gaseous exchange. They also developed an anchorage to the substratum, soil. Meristems evolved and provided the much needed cells that differentiated and specialised into useful structures (Campbell and Reece, 2005). In bryophytes the cells differentiated into rhizoids, antheridia and archegonia, setae and capsule. In Pteridophytes they developed into xylem and phloem, fronds, roots and root hairs (Solomon et al, 2012). This differentiation led to division of labour which in turn results in high productivity and thus contributed to the successful colonisation of land by plants.
Water was now a scarce resource on land and plants were on risk of drying out. To prevent desiccation, the early plants synthesised cutin, a secondary metabolite that is used to form a thin cuticle covering the plant. This is very obvious in Pteridophytes.…...

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