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Abstract Detail

Ecological and evolutionary attributes of bryophytes of the boreal and arctic regions: New paradigms from interdisciplinary research

LaFarge, Catherine [1], Miller, Gifford H [2], Bao, Tan [3], Williams, Krista H [3], Miller, Brittney H [3], Pendleton, Simon [2], England, John [4].

Regeneration of Entombed Bryophytes in Arctic and Boreal ecosystems: Expanding the Shelf Life of Totipotency.

Glacial ecosystems provide critical habitats for diverse microbiota (i.e., fungi, algae, cyanobacteria, bacteria and viruses) in high latitude ecosystems1. Viable land plants (embryophytes) have been restricted to supraglacial habitats. Rapid retreat of glaciers and ice caps throughout the Canadian Arctic Archipelago is exposing pristine land plants preserved beneath cold-based ice. For the past half century these embryophytes have been consistently reported as dead. Our recent data overturned this pervasive interpretation by successful re-growth of Little Ice Age (1550-1850 AD) emergent bryophyte populations from the Teardrop Glacier, Sverdrup Pass, Ellesmere Island (79° N). Observed regeneration of in situ field populations were confirmed with lab culture assays (La Farge et al. 2013). These data fundamentally expand the biological refugia concept to include subglacial environments for land plants that were previously restricted to survival above and beyond glacial margins. The totipotent (all cells equivocal to stem cells), poikilohydric (desiccation tolerance), and cryophyllic (freezing tolerance) nature of arctic and boreal bryophytes facilitate unique adaptation to high-mid latitude environments. Ongoing research examines the capacity of entombed bryophytes to regenerate from a broad spectrum of landscapes: High Arctic Holocene peats, Ellesmere Island (82°N), emergent populations from plateau ice caps SE Baffin Island (67°N) and Yukon Ice patches (western Boreal, 60°N), and road entombed bryophytes from Alberta Oil industry disturbed sites within the Boreal forests. Assayed entombed populations ranged from < 10 to > 40,000 yr BP. Bryophytes have a pivotal role in landscape evolution through resilience and maintenance of Arctic and Boreal ecosystems. Their function within glacial, permafrost, and semi-permafrost environments forms persistent genetic and biological reservoirs.

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1 - University of Alberta, Biological Sciences, Edmonton, AB, T6G 2E9, Canada
2 - Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, Geological Sciences, University of Colorado, Boulder, C, 80309-0450, USA
3 - University of Alberta, Department of Biological Sciences, CW 405, Biological Sciences Bldg., Edmonton, AB, T6G 2E9 , Canada
4 - University of Alberta, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Edmonton, AB, T6G 2E1, Canada


Presentation Type: Symposium Presentation
Session: SY03
Location: Salon 10/The Shaw Conference Centre
Date: Monday, July 27th, 2015
Time: 9:15 AM
Number: SY03004
Abstract ID:842
Candidate for Awards:None

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