Field of Science

Mosses produce Scents that Attract

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.

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

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).

Overall I think it is really interesting research to read and think about. 


  1. Just last week I was writing about my moss-gardening progress, and how the curvy hill-and-swale of the many different mosses together made my clearing look 'sexy.' I didn't know HOW sexy! Very fascinating information. I know of a moss enthusiast who thought that slug trails attracted moss spores and would rub slugs on objects on which she wanted moss to grow...sounds like she was closer than I might have thought. Keep bringing the great information! Thank you, Calvin

  2. Hi Jessica,

    I like what you're doing with this blog. Seems like an excellent resource for bryologists and moss enthusiasts.

    I wanted to share a post from my blog which is devoted to an equally "unjustified fringe" topic, biological soil crusts (including mosses and friends).

    This one's about desert moss mortality under climate change treatments, based on a great paper you might have seen in Nature Climate Change.

    Anyways, keep posting and i'll keep reading


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