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AMERICAN JOURNAL OF BOTANY 103 (4): 1 – 11 , 2016; http://www.amjbot.org/ © 2016 Botanical Society of America • 1 AMERICAN JOURNAL OF BOTANYRESEARCH ARTICLE Th e origin of land plants (embryophytes) in the Ordovician or ear-lier was the pivotal evolutionary event in Earth’s history, setting in motion a complex series of geochemical processes in the geosphere, aff ecting carbon cycling in both the geosphere and atmosphere, ini-tiating the start of land-based ecosystems, and signifi cantly impact-ing the evolutionary trajectories of fungi and metazoa ( Berner, 1997 ; Bateman et al., 1998 ; Gensel and Edwards, 2001 ; Labandeira, 2005 ; Graham et al., 2014 ). A key feature in the success of land plants is their life cycle involving an alternation of generations in which two distinct plant bodies are produced—a diploid sporo-phyte and a haploid gametophyte ( Graham and Wilcox, 2000 ). Overcoming signifi cant issues of life on land involving water loss, transport of water and carbon, protect...