In investigating the extent of genetic diversity in Antarctic mosses the RAPD technique has proven especially useful in demonstrating that these mosses exhibit extensive genetic variation (levels being similar to those in temperate regions), and that within-colony variation is apparently caused not only by immigration and establishment of propagules from elsewhere, but also by mutagenesis. Dispersal of these mosses can also be followed using the RAPD technique; both short-distance dispersal by wind or water (depending on the moss species) and longer distance dispersal by wind across the ice cap has been demonstrated. Relationships with temperate mosses of the same species are being investigated to determine the origins of Antarctic populations. Genetic technology is also facilitating the taxonomic identification of moss specimens which cannot be identified morphologically due to phenotypic plasticity in Antarctica. Together, these genetic studies are starting to provide information of fundamental scientific importance for understanding the evolution, origins and dispersal mechanisms of Antarctic mosses, and their response to climate change.
|Number of pages||11|
|Publication status||Published - 2000|