What is Syntrichia caninervis?


11:13 AM

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What is Syntrichia caninervis? Blog Image


Scientists have identified a species of desert moss called 'Syntrichia caninervis' that could be a game-changer for future space exploration and colonisation efforts.

About Syntrichia caninervis:

  • It is one of the most abundant desert mosses in the world.
  • It possesses remarkable tolerance to multiple environmental stress factors (drought, cold, and radiation).
    • Extreme desiccation tolerance: recover within seconds after >98% water loss.
    • Extraordinary freezing tolerance: withstand −196°C ultra-low temperature.
    • Super resistance to gamma radiation: with half-lethal dose estimated to be 5,000 Gy.
  • Distribution:
    • It has a wide spread global distribution.
    • It is predominant in dryland regions, including the Gurbantunggut and Tengger Deserts in China and the Mojave Desert in the United States.
    • S. caninervis crusts are also present in mountainous regions of the Pamir, Tibet, Middle East, Antarctica, and circumpolar regions.
  • It has a unique adaptation: it uses a tiny hair (awn) on the end of each leaf to collect water, in addition to that collected by the leaves themselves.

What is a Moss?

  • A moss is a flowerless, spore-producing plant - with the spores produced in small capsules.
  • Mosses are distributed throughout the world except in salt water and are commonly found in moist shady locations.
  • They are best known for those species that carpet woodland and forest floors. 
  • Ecologically, mosses break down exposed substrata, releasing nutrients for the use of more-complex plants that succeed them.
  • They also aid in soil erosion control by providing surface cover and absorbing water, and they are important in the nutrient and water economy of some vegetation types.
  • Economically important species are those in the genus Sphagnum that form peat. 

Q1: What is Peat?

Peat is the surface organic layer of a soil that consists of partially decomposed organic matter, derived mostly from plant material, which has accumulated under conditions of waterlogging, oxygen deficiency, high acidity and nutrient deficiency.

Source: Desert moss found with potential to thrive on Mars