Ecophysiological research of peat mosses

Among mosses the speciality of adaptation strategies to drought of peat mosses are unknown, it is necessary to describe, mainly in case of Hungarian Sphagnum species. These mosses are drought-avoiding based on their morphological adaptation strategy; they are not at all classed among desiccation tolerant plants. At the same time, this capability of Sphagnum mosses comprises their determined tolerance capacity to desiccation/drought stress. The characteristic water condition of desiccation tolerant plants under their dried state is fatal for peat mosses for a long time, however some Sphagnum species can be very resistant against drought, there are some specifically be considered tolerant species (S. imbricatum). It can be found significant gaps in exploration of their special morphological features just as description of degree and temporal procession of different desiccation states. Most of Sphagnum species need large amount of water regime to survival and evidently they will be the first victim of desiccation on their natural habitat.
Degree of desiccation tolerance changing among the species, many of them are able to revive following long-term desiccation period. Although peat mosses of bogs can retain/store water due to their morphological adaptation, partly submerged, in deeper lying, less emerged (mainly in fen) species (hollow forming) less tolerate the long-term desiccation than hummock forming, bog species. The latter ones possess large stem and branch leaves to help water uptake by capillarity. Water storage capacity of hyaline cells, complex canopy structure of dense located capitula and the robust structure of stem and branch leaves together forming such plant morphology that suggest rather drought-avoiding strategy than desiccation tolerance mechanism. However, considerable differences in canopy structure of certain Sphagnum species can reflect different degree of desiccation tolerance. It also strengthens the view that hummock forming Sphagnum species are not physiological drought tolerant species but they survive due to their morphological drought avoiding ability.

Aim of the research to mapping the desiccation-rehydration dynamics versus microtopography of different Hungarian peat mosses. Furthermore revealing the differences in necessary and sufficient stem length of certain Sphagnum species for successful rehydration regeneration and investigating the effects of temperature adaptations to regeneration capacity of desiccation tolerant/avoiding plant groups.

The research carries out the ecophysiology laboratory of the Institute.


Partners: Alekszej Naumov (Institute of Soil Science and Agrochemistry Siberian Branch of RAS, Russia), University of Oslo (Norway)


2005-2007 - HAS-Russian bilateral project: ‘In situ ecological & ecophysiological studies of the Western Siberian vegetations along a Southern-Northern transect in addition with bottom up modelling and long-term responses of some desiccation tolerant mosses on elevated CO2 fumigation’
2006, 2008 – Alpine Research Centre, Finse, Norway (University of Oslo)
2008-2010 - HAS-Russian bilateral project: ‘The dynamics of the components biological the turnover under the changing conditions of climate in the ecosystems in the territory of Hungary and Russia’


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