Paul Strother

Research Professor


I have a background in paleobotany and in palynology, the study of fossil spores and pollen. My research interests are primarily in the origin of land plants from their algal ancestors, as manifest in the fossil record of spores and other organic remains recovered from lower Paleozoic strata. Since the algal-plant transition involves the origin of complex multicellularity within the context of terrestrialization, I am also interested in the influence of the environment on the origin of evolutionary novelity during the assembly of the primary plant genome. I also study Precambrian life in non-marine, lacustrine settings. This includes the elucidation of early forms of multicellularity, ultimately leading to the origin of animals. But this work is primarily about establishing the kinds and diversity of organisms that lived on Earth a billion years ago. Here again, understanding the influence of non-marine environments in the generation of evolutionary novelity (new biological structure) is a basic goal of this research. My work is field-based and I am active on projects from The Grand Canyon, The Mid-Continent Rift Stystem, eastern Laurasia, the northwest Scottish Highlands and Saudi Arabia.


  • Strother, Paul K. & Clinton Foster. 2021. A fossil record of land plant origins from charophyte algae. Science 373 (6556), 792-796. doi: 10.1126/science.abj2927
  • Strother, P.K., M. Brasier, D. Wacey, M. Saunders, L. Timpe, C. H. Wellman. 2021. A possible billion-year-old holozoan with differentiated multicellularity. Current Biology 31 (12), P2658-P2665.E2, June 21, 2021.
  • Strother, Paul K. & Charles H. Wellman. 2020. The Nonesuch Formation:  a rare window into freshwater life one billion years ago. Journal of the Geological Society 178 jgs2020-133, 30 November 2020,
  • Berbee, Mary L., Christine Strullu-Derrien, Pierre-Marc Delaux, Paul K. Strother, Paul Kenrick, Marc-André Selosse, & John W. Taylor. 2020. Genomic and fossil windows into the secret lives of the most ancient fungi. Nature Reviews Microbiology 18, 717-730 (2020).
  • van de Schootbrugge, B., C.M.H. van der Weijst, T.P. Hollaar, M. Vecoli, P.K. Strother, N. Kuhlmann, J. Thein, H. Visscher, H. van Konijnenburg-van Cittert, M.A.N. Schobben, A. Sluijs & S. Lindström. 2020. Catastrophic soil loss associated with end-Triassic deforestation, Earth-Science Reviews 210 (2020),