Researchers investigate the secret of how moss spreads from rooftop dwellers to agile globetrotters:

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Researchers at the University of Copenhagen have discovered how mosses have become one of the world’s most common species, transported by global wind systems around the latitudes of the Earth, on rooftops, sidewalks and lawns around the world, and even as far as Antarctica.

This new knowledge will give us a better understanding of how other tiny organisms, including bacteria and airborne spore forming organisms, are distributed.

In a recent study, researchers from the University of Copenhagen’s Museum of Natural History of Denmark investigated how Ceratodon pupureus, also known as fire moss, purple horn tooth moss, etc., one of the most widespread moss species in the world, has managed to colonize every crevice and corner of the earth.

“We have found a remarkable overlap between global wind patterns and the way this moss species has spread over time that we were not aware of before,” says the lead author of the research, evolutionary biologist Elisabeth Biersma of the Natural History Museum of Denmark.

This implies, according to Biersma, that much of the moss that Danes find in their lawns or on their roofs is mostly part of the same population found at similar latitudes on another continent.

Moss spores from North America, for instance, are possibly blown across the Atlantic to Denmark by prevailing westerly winds.

One of the earth’s oldest classes of plants
One of the oldest plant groups on earth, mosses (Bryophyta) are distinguished by the fact that they have no roots. In damp, shady areas, most groups grow, while others tolerate a bright, dry climate.

Mosses are highly hardy species that can both consume a lot of water and withstand substantial desiccation. Most other plants, such as rooftops, roads or polar climates, are nowhere near as immune to harsh conditions.

This is the secret to the great success of mosses worldwide, along with the wind,’ explains Elisabeth Biersma.

In Denmark, there are about 600 species of moss and around 12,000 species worldwide.

The researchers used moss samples from collections of dried plants, known as herbaria, from around the world for the analysis. The researchers built an extensive evolutionary tree using genetic samples of the mosses that helped them map the various populations of mosses.

A greater understanding of how the spread of life across the air
Analyses by the researchers suggest that the present dispersal pattern of C. Purpureus has risen in the past ~11 million years.

But the fact that it took too much time for C. It is a little shocking to spread purpureus to the sites where it occurs today,
“This can probably be explained by the fact that global wind systems can disperse spores over long distances in some cases, but also limit global dispersal because wind systems are self-contained and isolated transport systems that thereby limit dispersal beyond them,” explains Elisabeth Biersma.

As has been seen in C, it is the first time the investigator has seen such a consistent pattern of distribution across the globe. Pupureus. Pupureus

The results could be transferable elsewhere.

These results could help us to understand how other species, such as bacteria, fungi and certain plants, spread through microscopic particles carried by the wind in the air.

But if these observations can be extended to other species, only the future can tell.

Concludes Biersma.

The thesis was published in the journal Frontiers in Plant Science and was carried out in collaboration with a number of researchers and universities.

“Reference: “In the Globally Distributed Moss Ceratodon purpureus, Latitudinal Biogeographic Structuring” by Elisabeth M.

Biersma, Peter Convey, Rhys Wyber, Sharon A. Robinson, Katrin Linse, Howard Griffiths, Mark Dowton, Bart van de Vijver, and Jennifer A. Jackson, 28. Frontiers in Plant Science, August 2020.DOI: 10.3389/fpls.2020.502359

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