Sunday, 10 August 2014

A new species of Liverwort from New Zealand.

Liverworts are non-vascular plants related to Mosses and thought to be among the most ancient plant groups. They lack roots or any form of vascular tissue, have leaves only one or two layers of cells thick and are incapable of retaining water in dry conditions. The visible plants of Liverworts are Haploid (their cells contain only a single set of chromosomes), with diploid cells (which contain two, paired, sets of chromosomes) only occurring in sex cells; this is the reverse of the situation in almost all other plants and animals, where most cells are diploid, except the sex cells which are haploid.

In a paper published in the journal Phytotaxa on 25 June 2014 Endymion Cooper of the Department of Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics at the University of Maryland and Matt Renner of the Royal Botanic Gardens & Domain Trust in Sydney describe a new species of Liverwort from New Zealand.

The new species is placed in the genus Lepidozia, and given the specific name bragginsiana, in honour of John Braggins, a distinguished New Zealand botanist and bryologist (scientist who studies mosses and liverworts), who led the expedition during which the new species was first discovered. Lepidozia bragginsiana is an erect branching Liverwort, pale green or golden yellow-green in colour, with shoots reaching 2 cm.

Lepidozia bragginsiana in situ at Cross Creek showing the erect, bipinnately ramified shoots with imbricate appressed leaves on primary shoots. Cooper & Renner (2014).

Lepidozia bragginsiana is widespread in the hyper-humid forests to the west of the southern Alps on South Island, from Nelson in the north to Fiorland in the south. It is also found on North Island as far north as Mount Te Aroha, though it appears to be less common here. It is found at altitudes of between 200 m and 1000 m in both Podocarp and Beech forests, and is considered likely to be found beyond its current known range.

Photograph of habitat at Cross Creek. Cooper & Renner (2014).

See also…

Mosses are thought to be among the most ancient of plant groups, and still make up a significant proportion of all plant communities. They are an ancient group...

Mosses (Bryophytes) are simple plants which lack vascular systems to pump water and nutrients from a root system, instead relying on what they can absorb through their leaves, and generally only reaching a few...

The Ordovician Period lasted roughly 44 million years, from approximately 488 million years ago to about 444 million years ago. It is thought to have been extremely warm, possibly the warmest geological period since the evolution of large, complex lifeforms, with a CO₂ rich...

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