Warming reduces stress in Antarctic moss

In moss-dominated regions of the Western Antarctic Peninsula, dramatic climate features have profoundly impacted moss biology and terrestrial ecology. In a study focused on the effects of six-years of passive warming on Antarctic mosses, Shortlidge et al. utilised open top chambers (OTCs) on moss communities. They found an overall increase in moss growth and sporophyte production with warming.

In situ physiological status of Polytrichastrum alpinum moss canopies differ by treatment.
In situ physiological status of Polytrichastrum alpinum moss canopies differ by treatment. (A) PSII efficiency (Fv/Fm; n = 24; P = 0·02) and (B) chlorophyll content [chlorophyll fluorescence ratio (CFR); n = 12; P = 0·14]. Bars represent data mean ± s.e.; open bars represent control plots and filled bars represent OTC plots.

Polytrichastrum alpinum, a prominent Antarctic species, showed reduced physiological and cellular stress, but an enhanced reproductive effort under warming. These findings provide a species-specific mechanistic insight into moss responses to warming in the Antarctic.

Reference

Shortlidge, E. E., Eppley, S. M., Kohler, H., Rosenstiel, T. N., Zúñiga, G. E., & Casanova-Katny, A. (2016). Passive warming reduces stress and shifts reproductive effort in the Antarctic moss, Polytrichastrum alpinum. Annals of Botany, 119(1), 27–38. https://doi.org/10.1093/aob/mcw201