General

Dr. Leyla Seyfullah

University of Vienna
Faculty of Earth Sciences, Geography and Astronomy
Department of Palaeontology


Althanstraße 14 (UZA II)

1090 Wien / Austria


E-Mail:leyla.seyfullah@univie.ac.at


Background

Postdoc, Evolution der Landpflanzen & Entwicklung der terrestrischen Ökosysteme

  • 1995-2000 BSc (Hons) 2:1 Plant Sciences (Biological Sciences), University of Edinburgh, U.K.
  • 2000-2001 Masters by Research: Mechanical Harvesting of Tea in Malawi. Silsoe College, Cranfield University, U.K (with substantial fieldwork in Malawi, Africa).
  • 2001-2002 Silsoe College, Cranfield University, U.K. Laboratory assistant.
  • 2002-2004 Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, London. Horticultural crop science support and advice for U.K. government.
  • 2004-2008 PhD in palaeobotany: Evolution and systematics of Palaeozoic pteridosperms. Earth Sciences, University of Birmingham, U.K.
  • 2008-2010 Research fellow, Earth Sciences, University of Birmingham, U.K.
  • 2010-2013 Dorothea Schlözer postdoctoral fellow at the Courant Research Centre Geobiology, Göttingen.
  • 2014-2015 Researcher at the Department of Geobiology
  • 2016 ongoing Researcher at the Department of Geobiology - own research project (German Research Foundation, DFG Eigene Stelle) entitled: "Why do we have amber forests? The relationship between resin production and amber deposits"

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Research Interests

I am a botanist interested in the evolution of plants through time. My focus has been on the seed plants, particularly the gymnosperms. My postdoc here continues examining fossil plants in detail, but I have also been able to include a fascinating new dimension to this work: amber. My interests have broadened since my PhD to cover four distinct, but interconnected areas:

1. The evolutionary history of seed-plants
I started by looking at the modern extant flora, which comprises five extant, but highly disparate lineages: cycads, conifers, Gnetales, Ginkgo (all gymnosperms), and the flowering plants (angiosperms). The origin of these lineages from the stem-group gymnosperms is still unresolved and is dependent on the discovery and interpretation of fossil taxa as well as improved molecular sampling. The integration of modern molecular results and fossils, for me, is key to understanding the past and thus the present plant relationships. I also enjoy the challenge of trying to rebuild fossil plants since they are often found as separate pieces, and figuring out how they may have really functioned


Fossil Leyla

A median transverse section of the ovule of Physostoma elegans Will. showing the lobate portion of outer integument which is densely covered in hairs. This thin section was obtained from a Lower Carboniferous coal ball from Lancashire, UK.

2. The co-evolution of plants with other organisms through Phanerozoic time and including modern ecosystems.
By looking at the often subtle and complex interactions of all the organisms within an ecospace, the plants, animals, fungi and bacteria, a clearer picture of palaeoecosystems emerges, as do the potential timings of innovations

stellate hair Ethiopianamber

Stellate plant hair from a fern preserved in Cenomanian amber from Ethiopia. The resin itself is not from a fern, so the fossilized exudate of one plant species has entrapped an indication of a different species co-occurring in an amber forest..


3. The effect of biological innovations on both the biological and geochemical environment and habitat development.
A particular example of this is from an unexpected area of resin research. Plant resins can be used as a substrate by some organisms. These organisms have a precarious existence, their very food source can threat to engulf and entomb them. Should this happen and be preserved, we would see a biological inclusion in amber.

Monotosporella

The anamorphic ascomycete genus Monotosporella from a lichen thallus inside Eocene amber (left) and from modern Agathis resin in New Caledonia (right). .

4. Plant resins and their relationship to amber in the fossil record.
Amber as a fossilized plant resin contains chemical information on the parent plant that produced it and potentially information on the ecological conditions that led to its production, and the geological conditions of its fossilization. Normally amber is found rarely throughout the fossil record; however, there are key points in earth history where ‘amber bursts’ are seen. These amber bursts are characterized by great numbers of large amber accumulations worldwide. Amber bursts occur in the Late Triassic, the Early to mid-Cretaceous, and the Eocene to Miocene, all three epochs are crucial periods in seed plant evolution, and so my interest in amber neatly feeds back to my interest in seed plants. By studying the modern resin-producing trees I hope to get a clearer understanding of the conditions for resin exudation, particularly in conifers, since other gymnosperms do not today produce resins but instead they produce other secretions. Understanding the causes of massive resin outpourings, as opposed to more ‘normal’ resin production would help to explain the ecological/biological reasons for amber burst phenomena.

Agathis

Traumatic resin production in Agathis trees from New Caledonia. Large outflows from Agathis lanceolata (left) and initial resin outpouring in Agathis ovata (right).


  • Evolution and systematics of seed plants, particularly the gymnosperms.
  • Carboniferous environments and plants.
  • The origin, taphonomy, and fossil record of amber, in particular the global phenomena of ‘amber bursts’, and the plant inclusions enclosed within amber.
  • Understanding the interactions of species in ‘amber forests’.
  • Resin induction and production in modern plants, particularly the gymnosperms.
  • Anatomically preserved fossil plants and reconstructing the fragments back in to a whole-plant concept.
  • Niche development and the geological record.
  • Land plant recovery after extinction events, particularly the Triassic floral recovery.
  • Origin of the modern flora.

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Peer-reviewed publications

(see Department of Geobiology homepage for a detailed record)

accepted for publication/in press :


2018:

Seyfullah, L. J., Roghi, G., Dal Corso, J. & Schmidt, A. R. 2018. The Carnian Pluvial Episode and the first global appearance of amber. Journal of the Geological Society of London. doi: 10.1144/jgs2017-143.


Seyfullah, L. J., Beimforde, C., Dal Corso, J., Perrichot, V., Rikkinen, J. & Schmidt, A. R. 2018. Production and preservation of resins – past and present. Biological reviews. 93: 1684–1714.doi: 10.1111/brv.12414.


Kettunen, E., Sadowski, E. M., Seyfullah, L. J., Dörfelt, H., Rikkinen, J. & Schmidt, A. R. Caspary’s fungi from Baltic amber: historic specimens and new evidence. Papers in Palaeontology (in press).


Schmidt, A. R, Grabow, D., Beimforde, C., Perrichot, V., Rikkinen, J., Saint Martin, S., Thiel, V. & Seyfullah, L. J. Marine microorganisms as amber inclusions: insights from coastal forests of New Caledonia. Fossil Record (in press).


Schmidt, A. R., Kaulfuss, U., Bannister, J. M., Baranov, V., Beimforde, C., Bleile, N., Borkent, A., Busch, A., Conran, J. G., Engel, M. S., Harvey, M., Kennedy, E. M., Kerr, P., Kettunen, E., Kiecksee, A. P., Lengeling, F., Lindqvist, J. K., Maraun, M., Mildenhall, D., Perrichot, V., Rikkinen, J., Sadowski, E. M., Seyfullah, L. J., Stebner, F., Szwedo, J., Ulbrich, P. & Lee, D. E. 2018. Amber inclusions from New Zealand. Gondwana Research. 56: 135–146.


Dal Corso, J., Benton, M. J., Bernardi, M., Franz, M., Gianolla, P., Hohn, S., Kustatscher, E., Merico, A., Roghi, G., Ruffell, A., Ogg, J. G., Preto, N., Schmidt, A. R., Seyfullah, L. J., Simms, M. J., Shi, Z, Zhang, Y. 2018. First workshop on the Carnian Pluvial Episode (Late Triassic): a report. Albertiana. 44: 49–57.


2017:

Seyfullah, L. J., Beimforde, C., Rikkinen, J., Perrichot, V. & Schmidt, A. R. 2017. Parasitaxus parasitized: novel infestation of Parasitaxus usta (Podocarpaceae). Arthropod-Plant Interactions. 11: 507–514.


Sadowski, E. M., Schmidt, A. R., Seyfullah, L. J. & Kunzmann, L. Conifers from of the ‘Baltic amber forest’ and their palaeoecological significance. Stapfia. 106 1–73.


Sadowski, E. M., Seyfullah, L. J. Wilson, C. A., Calvin, C. L. & Schmidt, A.R. Diverse early dwarf mistletoes (Arceuthobium), ecological keystones of the Eocene Baltic amber biota. American journal of Botany. 104: 694–718.


Beimforde, C., Seyfullah, L. J., Perrichot, V., Schmidt, K., Rikkinen, J. & Schmidt, A. R. 2017. Resin induction and resinicolous communities on Araucaria humboldtensis in New Caledonia. Arthropod-Plant Interactions. 11: 495–505.


Dal Corso, J., Schmidt, A. R., Seyfullah, L. J., Preto, N., Ragazzi, E., Jenkyns, H. C., Delclòs, X. & Roghi, G. 2017. Evaluating the use of amber in palaeoatmospheric reconstructions: The carbon-isotope variability of modern and Cretaceous conifer resins. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta. 199: 351–369.


2016:

Rikkinen, J., Beimforde, C., Seyfullah, L. J., Perrichot, V., Schmidt, K. & Schmidt, A. R. 2016. Resinogalea humboldtensis gen. et sp. nov., a new resinicolous fungus from New Caledonia, placed in Bruceomycetaceae fam. nova (Ascomycota). Annales Botanici Fennici 53, 205-215.


Sadowski, E.-M., Schmidt, A. R., Kunzmann, L., Gröhn, C. & Seyfullah, L. J. 2016. Sciadopitys cladodes from Eocene Baltic amber. Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 180, 258-268.


Sadowski, E.-M., Schmidt, A. R., Rudall, P. J., Simpson, D. A., Gröhn, C., Wunderlich, J. & Seyfullah, L. J. 2016. Graminids from Eocene Baltic amber. Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology 233, 161-168.


Thiel, V., Lausmaa, J., Sjövall, P., Ragazzi, E., Seyfullah, L. J. & Schmidt, A. R. 2016. Microbe-like inclusions in tree resins and implications for the fossil record of protists in amber. Geobiology 14, 364-373.


2015:

Hartl, C., Schmidt, A. R., Heinrichs, J., Seyfullah, L. J., Schäfer, N., Gröhn, C., Rikkinen, J. & Kaasalainen, U. 2015. Lichen preservation in amber: morphology, ultrastructure, chemofossils, and taphonomic alteration. Fossil Record 18, 127–135.


Sadowski, E. M., Seyfullah, L. J., Sadowski, F., Fleischmann, A., Behling, H. & Schmidt, A. R. 2015. Carnivorous leaves from Baltic amber. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 112: 190–195.   DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1414777111


Seyfullah, L. J., Sadowski, E. M. & Schmidt, A. R. 2015. Species-level determination of closely related araucarian resins using FTIR spectroscopy and its implications for the provenance of New Zealand amber.  PeerJ 3:e1067.


Thomas, B. A. & Seyfullah, L. J. 2015. A new look at Lepidodendron ophiurus Brongniart and the recognition of L. wingfieldense sp. nov. (Flemingitaceae, Lepidodendrales) from the Langsettian of Derbyshire, East Midlands, UK. Palaeontographica Abteilung B. 292: 23–32.


Thomas, B. A. & Seyfullah, L. J. 2015. Stigmaria Brongniart: a new specimen from the Duckmantian of Brymbo (Wrexham, North Wales) together with a review of known casts and an assessment of how they were preserved. Geological Magazine 152: 858–870. DOI: 10.1017/S0016756815000035


Thomas, B. A. & Seyfullah, L. J. 2015. Two new species of megasporangiate Sigillariostrobus Schimper (Sigillariostrobaceae) fructifications from the British Coal Measures. Fossil Record 19, 1–9.


2014:

Seyfullah, L. J., Glasspool, I. & Hilton, J.  2014. Hooked: habits of the Chinese Permian gigantopterid Gigantonoclea. Journal of Asian Earth Sciences. 83: 80–90.


Wang, S-J., He, X-Y., Hilton, J., Seyfullah, L. J. & Shao, L. 2014. The anatomically preserved stem Zhongmingella gen. nov. from the Upper Permian of China: evaluating the early evolution and phylogeny of the Osmundales. Journal of Systematic Palaeontology. 12: 1–22.


Beimforde C., Feldberg, K., Nylinder, S., Rikkinen, J., Tuovila, H., Dörfelt, H., Gube, M., Jackson, D., Reitner, J., Seyfullah, L. J. & Schmidt, A. R. 2014. Estimating the Phanerozoic history of the Ascomycota lineages: combining fossil and molecular data. Molecular phylogeny and evolution. 78: 386–398.


Schmidt, A. R., Beimforde, C.  Seyfullah, L. J., Wege, S. J., Dörfelt, H., Girad, V., Grabenhorst, H., Gube, M., Heinrichs, J., Nel, A., Nel, P., Perrichot, V., Reitner, J. & Rikkinen, J. 2014. Amber fossils of sooty moulds. Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology. 200: 53–64.


Rikkinen, J., Tuovila, H., Beimforde, C., Seyfullah, L.J., Perrichot, V. & Schmidt, A.R. 2014. Chaenothecopsis neocaledonica sp. nov.: The first resinicolous fungus from Araucariaceae (Pinales). Phytotaxa. 173: 49–60.


2013:

Seyfullah, L. J., Kustatscher, E. & Taylor, W. 2013. The first discovery of in situ Verrucosisporites applanatus spores from the Middle Triassic flora from Bromsgrove (Worcestershire, UK). Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology. 197:15–25.


Web publication: Seyfullah, Leyla. 2013. Life as a Palaeontologist: Going solo and making a living out of working with fossils, Palaeontology Online, Volume 3, Article 2, 1-8. http://www.palaeontologyonline.com/articles/2013/life-as-a-palaeontologist-going-solo-and-making-a-living-out-of-working-with-fossils/

2012:

Thomas, B. A. & Seyfullah, L. J. 2012. A re-examination of the unusual lycophyte species Halonia ichthyoderma Lesquereux (comb. nov). Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology. 182: 14–19.


Kiecksee, A. P., Seyfullah, L. J., Dörfelt, H., Heinrichs, J., Süß, H. & Schmidt, A. R. 2012. Pre-Cretaceous Agaricomycetes yet to be discovered: Reinvestigation of a putative Triassic bracket fungus from southern Germany. Fossil Record. 15: 85–89.


Sadowski, E. A., Beimforde, C., Rikkinen, J., Singh, H., Seyfullah, L. J., Gube, M., Heinrichs, J., Nascimbene, P. C., Reitner, J. & Schmidt, A. R. 2012. The anamorphic ascomycete genus Monotosporella from Eocene amber and from modern Agathis resin. Fungal biology. 116: 1099–1110.


Web publication: Seyfullah, Leyla. 2012. Fossil Focus: Using plant fossils to understand past climates and environments. Palaeontology Online, Volume 2, Article 7, 1-8. http://www.palaeontologyonline.com/articles/2012/fossil-focus-plant-fossils/


2011:

Seyfullah, L. J. & Hilton, J. 2011. Callistophytalean pteridosperms from Permian floras of China. Palaeontology. 54: 287–302.


2010:

Seyfullah, L. J., Hilton, J., Liang, M-M. & Wang, S-J. 2010. Resolving the systematic and phylogenetic position of isolated ovules: a case study based on a new genus from the Upper Permian of China. Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society. 164: 84–108.


2009:

Seyfullah, L. J. & Hilton, J. 2009. Reevaluation of Halle’s fertile pteridosperms from Permian floras of Shanxi Province, China. Plant Systematics and Evolution 279: 191–218.


Seyfullah, L. J., Hilton, J., Wang, S-J. & Galtier, J. 2009. Anatomically preserved pteridosperm stems and rachises from Permian floras of China. International Journal of Plant Sciences. 170: 814–828.


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Conference contributions (abstracts and proceedings)

2016:

Sadowski, E.-M., Kunzmann, L., Schmidt, A. R. & Seyfullah, L. J. 2016. On the preservation of vascular plants in Baltic amber. 25th International Workshop on Plant Taphonomy, 25-26 November 2016, Bonn, Germany.


Sadowski, E.-M., Schmidt, A. R., Seyfullah, L. J. & Kunzmann, L. 2016. Flora of the ‘Baltic amber forest’. World Amber Council, 28.06 – 02.07.2016, Gdansk, Poland.


Sadowski, E.-M., Seyfullah, L. J., Schmidt, A. R. & Kunzmann, L. 2016. Towards a new picture of the ‘Baltic amber forest’. 7th International Conference on Fossil Insects, Arthropods and Amber, Edinburgh, 26 April – 1 May, 2016, Abstracts, p. 45.


Sadowski, E.-M., Seyfullah, L. J., Wilson, C. A., Calvin, C. L. & Schmidt, A. R. 2016. Macrofossil evidence of Eocene dwarf mistletoes (Arceuthobium) and their implications for the ‘Baltic amber forest’. Parasitic Flowering Plants IUFRO Working Group, Mistletoes: pathogens, keystone resource, and medicinal wonder. 18-22 July 2016, Ashland, Oregon, USA.


Seyfullah, L. J., Sadowski, E-M., Wilson, C. A., Calvin, C. L. & Schmidt, A. R. 2016. Looking up in the ‘Baltic amber forest’: the presence and implications of Eocene dwarf mistletoes (Arceuthobium). Linnean Society Palaeobotany specialist group meeting. November, 2016. Abstract volume p. 6.

2015:

Seyfullah, L. J., Grabow, D. & Schmidt, A. R. 2015. How do marine microfossils get trapped in amber? The Palaeontological Association Annual Meeting, Cardiff University and National Museum Wales, Cardiff, UK, 14-16 December, 2015.


2014:

Keynote: Seyfullah, L. J. 2014. Sticking points – understanding amber deposits through modern resin studies. European Palaeobotany and Palynology Congress, August 2014, Padova, Italy. Abstract book p. 249


Seyfullah, L. J., Sadowoski, E. M., Schmidt, A. R. 2014. Graminoids from Baltic amber. European Palaeobotany and Palynology Congress, August 2014, Padova, Italy. Abstract book p. 248.


2013:

Seyfullah, L. J. 2013. Tracing gymnosperms through the Palaeozoic: the road to China. Paläontologische Gesellshaft, Göttingen, September 2013. Terra Nostra abstract vol, p 152.


Seyfullah, L. J., Beimforde, C., Perrichot, V., Rikkinen, J. & Schmidt, A. R. 2013. Why do we have amber forests? Using modern studies to attempt to understand the relationship between resin production and amber deposits. In: Rascher, J., Rappsilber, I. & Wimmer, R. (eds) Bitterfelder Bernstein und andere fossile Harze aus Mitteldeutschland. III. Bitterfelder Bernsteinkolloquium, May 23–25, 2013 in Bitterfeld-Wolfen. Exkursionsführer und Veröffentlichungen der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Geowissenschaften 249, 64–67.


2012:

Seyfullah, L. J., Beimforde, C., Perrichot, V., Rikkinen, J. & Schmidt, A. R. 2012. The what and why of amber: attempting to understand the relationship between resin production and amber deposits. Centenary meeting of the Paläontologische Gesellschaft, Berlin, September 2012. Terra Nostra abstract vol. p. 166.


2011:

Seyfullah, L. J. 2011. Seed ferns and their role in seed plant evolution. June 2011. Botanical Sciences Department, Bochum, Germany.


2010:

Keynote: Seyfullah, L. J. 2010. The continuing position of pteridosperms as the backbone to seed plant evolution, Botany 2010, (Botanical Society of America) Rhode Island, USA. July 2010. Abstract vol. p. 14.


2008:

Seyfullah, L. J., Hilton, J. & Galtier, J. 2008. Callistophytalean pteridosperms from China. Botany 2008 (Botanical Society of America), Vancouver, Canada July 2008. Abstract vol. p. 66.


2006:

Seyfullah, L. J., Hilton, J. & Sutton, M. D. 2006. A problematic permineralised ovule of from the Upper Permian of China. A life of ferns and seed ferns conference, Montpellier, April 2006. Abstract vol. p. 22-23.


Other presentations:

Seyfullah, L. J., Beimforde, C., Perrichot, V., Rikkinen, J. & Schmidt, A. R. 2013. Southern hemisphere forests shedding light on reasons for amber accumulations. VII Southern Connection Congress, New Zealand, Jan. 2013. Abstract vol. p. 116.


Beimforde, C., Feldberg, K., Tuovila, H., Rikkinen, J., Gube, M., Seyfullah, L. J., Dörfelt, H., Reitner, J. & Schmidt, A. R. 2013. The potential of fossils preserved in amber for calibrating the molecular clock: An estimation of the Phanerozoic history of the Ascomycota. VII Southern Connection Congress, New Zealand, Jan. 2013. Abstract vol. p. 9.


Seyfullah, L. J., Beimforde, C., Perrichot, V., Rikkinen, J. & Schmidt, A. R. 2012. Understanding amber deposits through modern resin studies. Palaeontological Association Annual Meeting, Dublin, Dec. 2012. Palaeontological Association Newsletter, No. 81, p. 49.


Seyfullah, L. J., Beimforde, C., Perrichot, V., Rikkinen, J. & Schmidt, A. R. 2012. Sticky moments – understanding amber preservation through modern resin studies. Linnean Society Palaeobotany specialist group meeting. Oct. 2012. Abstract vol. p. 6.


Seyfullah, L. J., Beimforde, C., Perrichot, V., Rikkinen, J. & Schmidt, A. R. 2012. Resin production in Araucariaceae: enlightening amber deposition? International Organization of Paleobotany Congress, Tokyo, August 2012. Japanese Journal of Palynology. Vol. 58, p. 210.


Seyfullah, L. J. & Schmidt, A. R. 2012. High fidelity: evaluating amber as a medium for preserving unusual details. International Organization of Paleobotany Congress, Tokyo, August 2012. Japanese Journal of Palynology. Vol. 58, p. 210.


Seyfullah, L. J., Hilton, J. & Bateman, R. M. 2010. Reconstructing the Bilignea plant. 8th European Palaeobotany and Palynology Congress, Budapest. June 2010.


Seyfullah, L. J., Hilton, J. & Bateman, R. M. 2009. Putting Humpty together again: reconstructing the Bilignea plant. Palaeontological Association Annual Meeting, Birmingham, Dec. 2009. Palaeontological Association Newsletter, No. 72, p. 32.


Seyfullah, L. J. 2009. Geology, scorpions and plants: reinvestigating Jack Wills’ Triassic finds. Linnean Society Palaeobotany specialist group meeting. Oct. 2009. Abstract vol. p. 4.


Seyfullah, L. J., Hilton, J. & Bateman, R. M. 2008. Reconstructed Palaeozoic pteridosperms and their bearing on seed-plant relationships. IOPC Bonn, Germany Aug. 2008. Abstract vol. p. 255


Seyfullah, L. J., Hilton, J. & Bateman, R. M. 2008. Root of despair? Experimenting with outgroup selection in lignophyte phylogeny. Botany 2008 (Botanical Society of America), Vancouver, Canada July 2008. Abstract vol. p. 66.


Seyfullah, L. J., Hilton, J. & Sutton, M. D. 2007 (poster). Reconstructing seeds in 3D. Palaeontological Association Annual Meeting, Uppsala, Dec. 2007. Palaeontological Association Newsletter, No. 66. p. 93.


Seyfullah, L. J. 2006. Critically evaluating position of ovule attachment in basal seed plants. Palaeontological Association Annual Meeting, Sheffield Dec. 2006. Palaeontological Association Newsletter, No 63. p 36.


Seyfullah, L. J. 2006. Seed attachment in Palaeozoic pteridosperms. Linnean Society Palaeobotany specialist group meeting. Oct. 2006. Abstract vol. p. 13.


Seyfullah, L. J. & Hilton, J. 2006. Seed attachment in Palaeozoic pteridosperms. 7th European Paleobotany and Palynology Congress, Prague Sept. 2006. Abstract vol. p. 124.


Seyfullah, L. J. & Hilton, J. 2006. Halle’s seed ferns – just how many did he have? Linnean society Palaeobotany specialist group meeting 26 Oct 2006. Meeting volume, p. 2.


Seyfullah, L. J. 2006 (poster). Reinvestigating Halle’s pteridosperms. A life of ferns and seed ferns conference, Montpellier, April 2006. Abstract vol. p. 22-23.

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