Feeds

Moss reanimates after 400 years in DEEP FREEZE

Frozen veg shocker: Boffins revive glacier-bound plants

Remote control for virtualized desktops

Ancient plants have been brought back to life by boffins, despite having been frozen inside a glacier for over 400 years.

Glacier retreat in the Canadian Arctic

Researcher Catherine La Farge, director and curator of the Cryptogamic Herbarium at the University of Alberta, snagged moss which carbon-dating estimated was aged between 400 and 600 years old, frozen during the "Little Ice Age" between 1550 and 1850.

The boffins picked up the plants from an area around the Teardrop Glacier in the Canadian Arctic, because La Farge noticed that some of them appeared to be regrowing once the ice had retreated. Glaciers in the region have been receding at a rate of around three to four metres a year, uncovering land that hasn't seen the Sun since the 1500s.

Once they got the plants back to the lab, La Farge and her co-authors successfully regenerated four species from the original parent material in 11 cultures from seven subglacial samples.

“We know that bryophytes [like moss and liverwort] can remain dormant for many years (for example, in deserts) and then are reactivated, but nobody expected them to rejuvenate after nearly 400 years beneath a glacier," La Farge said.

“These simple, efficient plants, which have been around for more than 400 million years, have evolved a unique biology for optimal resilience,” she adds. “Any bryophyte cell can reprogram itself to initiate the development of an entire new plant. This is equivalent to stem cells in faunal systems.”

The findings have implications for how well the whole planet could recover from any little or large Ice Ages in the future.

Frozen moss revived after hundreds of years in a glacier

“Bryophytes are extremophiles that can thrive where other plants don’t, hence they play a vital role in the establishment, colonisation and maintenance of polar ecosystems," La Farge said.

"This discovery emphasises the importance of research that helps us understand the natural world, given how little we still know about polar ecosystems—with applied spinoffs for understanding reclamation that we may never have anticipated.”

The study, "Regeneration of Little Ice Age bryophytes emerging from a polar glacier with implications of totipotency in extreme environments", is to be published in the Proceedings for the National Academy of Sciences. ®

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
Antarctic ice THICKER than first feared – penguin-bot boffins
Robo-sub scans freezing waters, rocks warming models
I'll be back (and forward): Hollywood's time travel tribulations
Quick, call the Time Cops to sort out this paradox!
Your PHONE is slowly KILLING YOU
Doctors find new Digitillnesses - 'text neck' and 'telepressure'
Reuse the Force, Luke: SpaceX's Elon Musk reveals X-WING designs
And a floating carrier for recyclable rockets
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
Rosetta science team thinks Philae might come to life in the spring
And disclose the biggest surprise of Comet 67P
Bond villains lament as Wicked Lasers withdraw death ray
Want to arm that shark? Better get in there quick
prev story

Whitepapers

Seattle children’s accelerates Citrix login times by 500% with cross-tier insight
Seattle Children’s is a leading research hospital with a large and growing Citrix XenDesktop deployment. See how they used ExtraHop to accelerate launch times.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
Why CIOs should rethink endpoint data protection in the age of mobility
Assessing trends in data protection, specifically with respect to mobile devices, BYOD, and remote employees.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Website security in corporate America
Find out how you rank among other IT managers testing your website's vulnerabilities.