"The world’s oldest moss, found in the Himalayas, may not be able to survive
climate breakdown, scientists have said.
Takakia, which has been growing for 390m years, is one of the fastest-evolving
species ever found, but that may not be enough to save it, the researchers
Takakia is a small, slow-growing moss that can be found only in small
quantities in remote parts of the US, Japan and Tibet. After a decade-long
expedition, scientists have analysed its DNA for the first time to learn how
climate breakdown is affecting the species and its habitat.
The ancient moss was already 100m years old before the Himalayas formed
underneath it, triggering a fast adaptation process. “We set out to describe
and analyse a living fossil,” said Ralf Reski, a plant biotechnologist at the
University of Freiburg in Germany and an author of the paper published in the
The expedition was not straightforward owing to the high altitude and volatile
weather in the Himalayas, which the plant biologist and expedition co-leader
Ruoyang Hu said could go through “four seasons within one day”.
The team found that owing to these extreme weather conditions, Takakia had
evolved over generations to become adept at fixing broken DNA and recovering
from ultraviolet damage. In response to these conditions, the plants developed
the ability to grow anywhere."
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