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, P.K. & W.A. Taylor. The evolutionary origin of the plant spore in relation to the antithetic origin of the plant sporophyte. In: M. Krings, C.J. Harper, N.R. Cúneo & G.W. Rothwell (Eds.) Transformative paleobotany: Papers to commemorate the life and legacy of Thomas N. Taylor. Elsevier. (in press)
  • Van Eldijk, T.J.B., T. Wappler, P.K. Strother, C. van der Weijst, H. Rajaei, H. Visscher, H., B. van de Schootbrugge. 2018. A Triassic-Jurassic window into the evolution of the Lepidoptera. Science Advances 2018;4: e1701568.
  • Strother, P.K. 2016. Systematics and evolutionary significance of some new cryptospores from the Cambrian of eastern Tennessee, USA. Review of Palæobotany and Palynology 227: 28-41. doi:10.1016/j.revpalbo.2015.10.006
  • Renzaglia, K.S., B. Crandall-Stotler, S. Pressel, J. Duckett, S. Schuette, & P.K. Strother. 2015. Permanent spore dyads are not a ‘thing of the past’:  on their occurrence in the liverwort Haplomitrium (Haplomitriopsida). Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 179 (4): 658-669. doi:10.1111/boj.12343
  • Strother, P.K., L. Battison, M.D. Brasier & C.H. Wellman. 2011. Earth’s earliest non-marine eukaryotes. Nature 473: 505-509.