The oldest moss on the planet is endangered

According to a study published in the journal Cell and led by the Capital Normal University of Beijing, the oldest moss on earth could disappear in the next 100 years, and obviously the causes would derive from human activity

by Lorenzo Ciotti
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The oldest moss on the planet is endangered

According to a study published in the journal Cell and led by the Capital Normal University of Beijing, the oldest moss on earth could disappear in the next 100 years, and obviously the causes would derive from human activity.

It is the takakia moss, threatened by the climate crisis. This moss grows in some of the most remote places on the planet, such as the Himalayas, and the team of researchers has scaled some of the world's highest peaks to sequence its DNA for the first time.

The researchers showed that the results show that while Takakia is one of the fastest-evolving species ever studied, it is probably not fast enough to keep pace with ongoing climate change. Researchers led by Ruoyang Hu and Xuedong Li undertook 18 expeditions to find it and collect samples, discovering that its DNA contains the largest number of rapidly evolving genes.

Many mutations that have occurred over the generations, for example, have allowed moss to excel in repairing damaged DNA and recovering from problems caused by excess ultraviolet rays.

The oldest moss on the planet is endangered

In fact, researchers agree that moss probably won't see an end in the next 100 years.

The researchers explain: "Our forecast shows that regions suitable for hosting Takakia will shrink to just 1,000 to 1,500 square kilometers worldwide by the end of the 21st century." Despite takakia's past successes at adapting quickly, the study authors note that the oldest of mosses is becoming increasingly difficult to find: Tibet's populations have been declining by 1.6 percent a year over the entire period.

course of study, which took several years. Takakia is a tiny moss found only in small areas of the Tibetan plateau and equally remote areas of Japan and the United States. Takakia was discovered in the Himalayas and described by William Mitten in 1861.

It was originally described simply as a new liverwort species within an existing genus, and it was thus long overlooked. The discovery of similar odd plants in the mid-20th century by Dr. Noriwo Takaki (1915–2006) in Japan sparked more interest.

The many unusual features of these plants led to the establishment in 1958 of the species Takakia lepidozioides, in a new genus Takakia, named to honor the man who rediscovered it and recognized its unique characteristics.