|Photo: Erin Shortlidge, Portland State University|
I am a little behind in posting about the moss research that came out in the journal Nature a couple of weeks ago. Researchers found that a moss with separate sexes produce volatile compounds (scents) that can attract microinvertebrates, which in turn increases sexual reproduction.
Todd N. Rosenstiel, Erin E. Shortlidge, Andrea N. Melnychenko, James F. Pankow, & Sarah M. Eppley. Sex-specific volatile compounds influence microarthropod-mediated fertilization of moss. Nature. doi: 10.1038/nature11330
For some additional science news coverage of the research check out these articles below.
Science News - I really like this article. The journalist did a nice job of contacting other science experts, some of whom I know, to comment on the research.
New York Times - Pretty brief article, but I was glad to see they covered it.
News Release from Portland State University - All the details and contacts. Also the title is super catchy.
This research connects to and builds on an earlier study that demonstrated that microarthropods increase fertilization rates in mosses. Now there is good evidence that the mosses are attracting the microarthropods to assist in sperm movement
Cronberg, N., R. Natcheva, and K. Hedlund. 2006. Microarthropods Mediate Sperm Transfer in Mosses Science 313: 1255.
This research is really changing our thoughts on how we think about sexual reproduction in mosses. Animals help to move the sperm around. The plants produce scents to attract them. And even if they do dry out some sperm can survive desiccation (study below).
Shortlidge, E. E., Rosenstiel, T. N. and Eppley, S. M. 2012. Tolerance to environmental desiccation in moss sperm. New Phytologist 194: 741–750.