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article imageAncient moss brought 'back to life'

By Tim Sandle     Mar 22, 2014 in Science
Antarctic moss beds that have been frozen for more than 1,500 years have yielded plants that can be brought back to life in a laboratory.
Researchers from the British Antarctic Survey and Reading University have reported having re-grown a moss that had been frozen in Antarctic ice for more than 1,500 years. With the study, the researchers drilled core samples from the moss beds on Signy Island off the coast of Antarctica. GMA News reports that the team then warmed the samples in an incubator to normal growth temperature and light exposure. After a few weeks, even the mosses from the oldest samples — aged at least 1,530 years — began to sprout new shoots.
Discussing the findings, Professor Peter Convey of the British Antarctic Survey , the lead scientist, said in a research note: "This experiment shows that multi-cellular organisms, plants in this case, can survive over far longer timescales than previously thought. These mosses, a key part of the ecosystem, could survive century to millennial periods of ice advance, such as the Little Ice Age in Europe."
The results have been published in the journal Current Biology. The report is titled "Millennial timescale regeneration in a moss from Antarctica."
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