Date: Thu, 9 Nov 2000 08:04:39 -0000
From: Rod Seppelt <email@example.com>
In reply to Janice.
Thanks for the additional info concerning what you have in culture.
Bugs, algae, cyanobacteria (perhaps not quite so problematic) and
fungi (perhaps the worst of all) are all hazards to be faced. In bulk
culture in a "free" place (i.e., in the open or in a terrarium), these
can be a problem (Janice has mentioned in particular the bugs).
In culture on a solid medium (Agar or other alternative medium) the
bugs are not so much of a problem as fungi, algae and
cyanobacteria - in that order.
One species Janice and Peg have in culture interested me:
Lunularia cruciata. Perhaps this primarily southern hemisphere
taxon is a northern novelty. But, in the wild, it is a particularly
robust bryophyte. If it is found in wet shaded habitats it produces
almost entirely gemmae. In sites that are more exposed and drier
and subject to periods of desiccation, it produced both gemmae
(when the conditions are wettest - e.g., autumn and winter) and at
the end of Spring, it forms sporophytes - but these develop only to
a "bud" stage i.e., the small white cones near the thallus apex.
These sporophytes (complete with elaters and spores, I might add)
remain in a state of suspended animation until the following autumn
rains, when there will be a burst of growth and maturation with
spore release. In summer, the plants become "cooked" on the soil
surface, and large areas of a thallus (but not the part with the
sporophyte) may die. A good example of a bryophyte finely tuned
to its habitat.
On the subject of cultures: I have just been to have a look at what
Jane Burch (Micropropagation Unit at Kew Gardens, London) is
doing with her experimental studies on culturing bryophytes with
particular regard to the ex situ conservation of rare or endangered
species. Axenic culture is not necessarily an easy thing to
I was impressed by what can be done with a little experimentation
(and, obviously time and care). Perhaps, Jane, the basics of your
methodology could be shared on the net.
Perhaps, some general questions for discussion:
For those who have experience in axenic culture of bryophytes,
what method is being used to surface sterilise the material?
How effective is the technique in (i) providing surface sterility and
(ii) not killing or damaging the bryophyte tissue.
Perhaps, also, for propagationists who wish to share their
techniques, may be the culture medium and nutrient sources.
Public opinion would seem to dictate that it is only showy vascular
plants that get much attention with regard to conservation.
However, one intersting feature of Jane's work at Kew is the culture
of a relatively recently described species of the moss Ditrichum -
the type locality of which no longer exists!!
Prof. Rod Seppelt
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Richmond, Surrey TW9 3AB