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Moss plants brought back to life after having been frozen in Antarctic ice for 1,500 years

Date:
September 15, 2014
Source:
Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg
Summary:
Mosses have existed on Earth for more than 400 million years. During this period they survived many climate catastrophes that wiped out more robust organisms such as, for example, dinosaurs. Recently, scientists brought single moss plants back to life after they had been frozen in the Antarctic ice for 1,500 years. Why are these small plants so resilient to climate changes?
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Moss plants brought back to life after having been frozen in Antarctic ice for 1,500 years.
Credit: Image courtesy of Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg

Mosses have existed on Earth for more than 400 million years. During this period they survived many climate catastrophes that wiped out more robust organisms such as, for example, dinosaurs. Recently, British scientists brought single moss plants back to life after they had been frozen in the Antarctic ice for 1,500 years. Why are these small plants so resilient to climate changes?

The biologists Professor Ralf Reski and Professor Peter Beyer and their teams discovered that mosses have specific genes that are activated quickly at low temperatures. Their results have just been published online in the research journal New Phytologist.

The members of the cluster of excellence BIOSS Centre for Biological Signalling Studies at the University of Freiburg, Germany, analysed the moss Physcomitrella patens, which since many years is the main research object in Reski's plant biotechnology team. Initially, the scientists determined the activities of more than 27,000 moss genes in plants grown at room temperature and for different periods of time on ice.

Subsequently, they analysed different signal and protection molecules from these plants with biochemical and physical methods.

"Moss recognizes a decline in temperature, uses the stress hormone ABA as a signal, which leads within a short period of time to three waves of gene activities," Reski reports. "As a result, moss plants produce highly complex protection molecules." Stunningly, the scientists found out that among the quickest responders were many genes not known from any other organism. These moss genes may contribute significantly to the remarkable resilience of these plants.


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Materials provided by Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Anna K. Beike, Daniel Lang, Andreas D. Zimmer, Florian Wüst, Danika Trautmann, Gertrud Wiedemann, Peter Beyer, Eva L. Decker, Ralf Reski. Insights from the cold transcriptome ofPhyscomitrella patens: global specialization pattern of conserved transcriptional regulators and identification of orphan genes involved in cold acclimation. New Phytologist, 2014; DOI: 10.1111/nph.13004

Cite This Page:

Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg. "Moss plants brought back to life after having been frozen in Antarctic ice for 1,500 years." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 September 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/09/140915083810.htm>.
Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg. (2014, September 15). Moss plants brought back to life after having been frozen in Antarctic ice for 1,500 years. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 24, 2017 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/09/140915083810.htm
Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg. "Moss plants brought back to life after having been frozen in Antarctic ice for 1,500 years." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/09/140915083810.htm (accessed May 24, 2017).

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