Researchers have found the plants under the Arctic ice that have the ability to re-grow due to glacial melting after about five centuries.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS)
Researchers were studying the effects of global warming in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. While exploring the Teardrop Glacier on Ellesmere Island in Nunavut, researchers found some green growth of moss (Aulacomnium turgidum) from the clumps of exposed dead plant material. They collected the samples and brought them back to the lab for study.
With the help of carbon dating, researchers found that the plants are from the time just before the Little Ice Age (1550-1850 AD).
Researchers analyzed the samples and found distinct types of plants. They were bryophytes, which are nonflowering plants having vascular tissues to pump fluids, across the plant, helping them to grow even in cold climates and damp places. Bryophytes have another special property of totipotency enabling them to grow the plant from a single cell.
“Our results emphasize the unrecognized resilience of bryophytes, which are commonly overlooked vis-a-vis their contribution to the establishment, colonization, and maintenance of polar terrestrial ecosystems,” Researchers wrote.
Researchers also found some cyanobacteria and green terrestrial algae and some of which have not been studied before.
“Regeneration of Little Ice Age bryophytes emerging from a polar glacier with implications of totipotency in extreme environments,” by Catherine La Farge, Krista H. Williams, and John H. England. PNAS, 2013. To be available at www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1304199110