News from IAB

The mission of the International Association of Bryologists (IAB), as a society, is to strengthen bryology by encouraging interactions among all persons interested in byophytes.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Why mosses can grow in the desert, and why their future is uncertain



Readers of this blog won't be so surprised, but most people are unaware that mosses grow in deserts and semiarid zones. The reason they can do so is that desert mosses are dessication tolerators, meaning they are capable of drying without dying. While dry, they are in a state of suspended animation, simply waiting for the next hydration period so that biological activity - and hopefully - net photosynthesis can occur. They rehydrate literally in seconds, and are immediately active. You could measure their respiration right away, for example. I always tell people that this is somewhat like spilling a glass of water on Tutankhamun, resulting in him coming back to life. A pretty cool party trick in my opinion. Biocrust organisms in general do this, but it is perhaps most dramatic in the mosses. Here's a video posted by Casey Allen of a simulated rain event.


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