Moss mystery solved. (journal extracts).FOR 25 years, the identity of a tiny moss sample harvested near the summit of the Mount Erebus volcano in Antarctica, has eluded scientists.
As a `protonema'--the juvenile form of moss--the sample could not be identified by physical or reproductive traits, and all attempts to encourage it to mature in the laboratory failed.
The application of modern genetic technology, however, has enabled ANU Anu (ā`n), ancient sky god of Sumerian origin, worshiped in Babylonian religion. geneticist ge·net·i·cist
A specialist in genetics.
a specialist in genetics.
geneticist Dr Mary Skotnicki, Macquarie University botanist Patricia Selkirk and their colleagues from New Zealand New Zealand (zē`lənd), island country (2005 est. pop. 4,035,000), 104,454 sq mi (270,534 sq km), in the S Pacific Ocean, over 1,000 mi (1,600 km) SE of Australia. The capital is Wellington; the largest city and leading port is Auckland. to finally identify the moss as Campylopus pyriformis.
The discovery came after the team compared DNA DNA: see nucleic acid.
or deoxyribonucleic acid
One of two types of nucleic acid (the other is RNA); a complex organic compound found in all living cells and many viruses. It is the chemical substance of genes. sequences and other genetic information from the protonema, with samples of C. pyriformis from a second Antarctic volcano, Mount Melbourne, and from two volcanic areas in the North Island of New Zealand. Other moss species from elsewhere in Antarctica were also compared.
The Mt Erebus protonema was found to share a significant proportion of its genetic material with the three C. pyriformis specimens and very little, or none, of its genetic material, with other species.
`The next question to consider is does the Mount Erebus moss remain in the juvenile stage because conditions are too harsh for further development, or does it contain mutations that keep it that way,' Selkirk says.
`The persistence of the protonemal stage in culture conditions suitable for differentiation suggests mutation is a distinct possibility.'
Skotnicki ML Selkirk PM Broady P et al (2001) Dispersal of the moss Campylopus pyriformis on geothermal ground near the summits of Mount Erubus and Mount Melbourne, Victoria Land, Antarctica. Antarctic Science, 13(3):280-285.