Field of Science

Journal Article on Growing Moss Plants

Blogging on Peer-Reviewed ResearchWhile thinking about growing mosses from scratch I remembered a helpful article that I read a while back by Dr. Jonathan Shaw. The article discusses techniques for growing mosses on soil. One of the most interesting methods that he used was a blender to grind the plants up. The plants were kept moist by an automatic misting machine, not by individual domes as I use to grow moss. He found that the mosses began to form protonema in two weeks and within three months the pots were full of leafy gametophytes.

Protonema are a plant growth stage that is unique to mosses. When the spores find a suitable location to grow they do not immediately produce leafy gametophytes. First they make a filamentous growth stage that is reminiscent of green algae. From the protonema numerous gametophytes are produced. Thus one spore can produce many leafy individuals that are genetically identical. In most species the protonema die off and the leafy plants are no longer connected. The protonema pictured here are from the moss Aphanorrhegma serratum, which I grew in the lab.

Overall I think that this is a really good article and I would recommend it for anyone who is growing mosses for research or gardening purposes.

Shaw, J. 1986. A New Approach to the Experimental Propagation of Bryophytes. Taxon 35(4):671-675.

Here is a list of the moss species that Dr. Shaw was able to grow using the methods outlined in his journal article.

Atrichum angustatum
Brachythecium salebrosum
Bryum argenteum
B. bicolor
Climacium americanum
Ditrichum lineare
Isopterygium pulchellum
Leucobryum albidum
Scopelophila cataractae
Thuidium delicatulum
Weissia controversa

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