Manuscript by Altoona biology professor published in online journal

Cross section of Paullinia weinmanifolia

Stem cross section of modern Paullinia weinmanifolia (viewed under a light microscope). The large white circles are vessels in the xylem which conduct water and minerals from the roots to the shoots. 

Credit: Joyce Chery

ALTOONA, Pa. — Sarah Allen, assistant professor of biology at Penn State Altoona, along with a team of collaborators, is the co-author of an open-access manuscript just published on the "PLOS ONE" website.

The study describes fossil roots of a liana, a climbing woody vine that lived about 19 million years ago when western Panama was part of a peninsula before the formation of the isthmus. The fossils have a suite of characters in common with modern liana species of the maple/soapberry family (Sapindaceae). This group is called Paullinieae and encompasses about 475 species, including plants like balloon vines common in the Southern United States, and the caffeine-rich commercial plant “guarana” from Brazil.

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