Several readers sent word of a group of University of Alberta researchers, who were exploring the edge of the Teardrop Glacier in northern Canada when they noticed a ‘greenish tint’ coming out from underneath the glacier. It turned out to be a collection of bryophytes, which likely flourished there the last time the land in that area was exposed to sunlight before the Little Ice Age. They collected samples of plants estimated to be 400 years old, and the researchers were able to get them to sprout new growths in the lab (abstract). “The glaciers in the region have been receding at rates that have sharply accelerated since 2004, at about 3-4m per year. … Bryophytes are different from the land plants that we know best, in that they do not have vascular tissue that helps pump fluids around different parts of the organism. They can survive being completely desiccated in long Arctic winters, returning to growth in warmer times, but Dr La Farge was surprised by an emergence of bryophytes that had been buried under ice for so long. ‘When we looked at them in detail and brought them to the lab, I could see some of the stems actually had new growth of green lateral branches, and that said to me that these guys are regenerating in the field, and that blew my mind.'” Read more of this story at Slashdot.
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Researchers Regenerate 400-Year-Old Frozen Plants