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The evolutionary distance between Equisetum and the Poales suggests that each evolved MLG independently.
The presence of MXE activity in Equisetum suggests that they have evolved MLG along with some mechanism of cell wall modification.
In these plants the leaves are greatly reduced and usually non-photosynthetic.
They contain a single, non-branching vascular trace, which is the defining feature of microphylls.
In addition, the cell walls of all Equisetum species tested contain mixed-linkage glucan (MLG), a polysaccharide which, until recently, was thought to be confined to the Poales.The name "horsetail", often used for the entire group, arose because the branched species somewhat resemble a horse's tail.Similarly, the scientific name Equisetum is derived from the Latin equus ("horse") seta ("bristle").Equisetum is a "living fossil" as it is the only living genus of the entire class Equisetopsida, which for over one hundred million years was much more diverse and dominated the understory of late Paleozoic forests.
Some Equisetopsida were large trees reaching to 30 meters tall.The genus Calamites of the family Calamitaceae, for example, is abundant in coal deposits from the Carboniferous period.