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Plenary Symposium: Botany in the World's Service

Vitt, Dale H. [1].

Bryophytes: Plants with Alternate Life Styles, Novel Features, and Ecological Importance.

Historically, bryophytes have played key roles in 19th century botanical discoveries- for example W. Hofmeister first observed alternation of generations in bryophytes; C. Allen was the first to describe sex chromosomes in the hepatic, Sphaerocarpos; and N. Pringsheim first observed apospory in several species of mosses. In the 20th century, the complete chloroplast DNA sequence was first obtained from Marchantia. Much early research used Funaria hygrometrica as an experimental organism, and currently Physcomitrella patens is one of a small number of key model organisms. Physcomitrella exhibits homologous recombination and as such is a key organism for plant biotechnology. Bryophytes, especially hepatics, have abundant bioactive molecules that are presently being explored for a number of medical and industrial roles. Many bryophytes, especially mosses, are highly desiccation tolerant and Syntrichia ruralis serves as an experimental system for this research. Sphagnum (peatmosses) includes keystone species of northern and polar ecosystems where through the processes of acidification, oligotrophication, and carbon sequestration direct ecosystem function. The unique cation exchanger located on cell walls of Sphagnum species provide exchange of hydrogen ions for base cations, allowing Sphagnum to be utilized as biofilters. The water retention and wicking abilities of Sphagnum are utilized in environmental clean-up and sanitary products, while high C/N ratios produce garden amendment products. Although localized in scale, the occupation of the gathering moss for home decorating can have profound environmental consequences.


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1 - Southern Illinois University, Department of Plant Biology, 1125 Lincoln Drive, Carbondale, Illinois, 62901-6509, USA

Keywords:
biofilter
bryophytes
experimental organism
peatmoss
Sphagnum.

Presentation Type: Symposium or Colloquium Presentation
Session: 4-2
Location: Salon G - Austin Grand Ballroom/Hilton
Date: Monday, August 15th, 2005
Time: 8:45 AM
Abstract ID:194


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