Researchers revive 1,500-year-old moss

March 18, 2014 at 3:04 PM
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LONDON, March 18 (UPI) -- British researchers have brought back to life moss that had been frozen on an Antarctic island for more than 1,500 years, officials said.

This was the oldest resurrection of a frozen plant made in a lab thus far, the Scientific American reported.

The moss came from the glacier-covered Signy Island off the Antarctic Peninsula and was revived in a British lab. Findings of the study were published Monday in the journal Current Biology.

"This is the very first instance we have of any plant or animal surviving [being frozen] for more than a couple of decades," said study co-author Peter Convey, an ecologist with the British Antarctic Survey.

In the lab, the moss, which grew 1,697 to 1,533 years ago, sent out new shoots from its rootlike "rhizoids," researchers said. Because the shoots grew directly out of the preserved moss and is of the same species, it is unlikely there was any contamination, the report said.

"We can't be certain there is no contamination, but we have very strong circumstantial evidence," Convey said. "Under a microscope, you can see the new shoot growing out of the old shoot. It is very firmly connected."

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