Space Moss

Space Moss - Sphagnum girgensohnii

Sphagnum girgensohnii

There are legends and tall tales in all parts of life, so it is not surprising that the world of botany has its share. They say that you can find your way through the woods by noting the growth of moss on trees. While that is interesting and possibly true, moss will soon enter the realm of legend for a more contemporary reason; it will be grown in space. Experimental biologists have long believed that there is a perfectly suited organism to help answer every scientific question in biology. Dr. Rod Savidge is a tree physiologist at the University of New Brunswick and feels that moss growing in space is useful for science to understand the effects of gravity on plant development, especially the woody parts. Scientific research is only useful if the methods and results can been seen, understood, questioned and tested. For this to be true for the work of Dr. Savidge, he needed the help of Jennifer Doubt, a botany expert at the Canadian Museum of Nature who identified the moss as Sphagnum girgensohnii,  a common peat land species in Canada. A sample from the experiments will be kept as a taxonomic reference in the national museum and will be available to other scientists (this type of data is called a voucher). All scientific work on plants and animals depends upon the accurate starting point of knowing the species involved.

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