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A pathway to the understanding of mosses? (II)

As mentioned in the previous issue the mosses are housing lots of edible hidden delicacies - most of them looking rather veggie (you see, the typical water bears is living as a vegetarian). When soaking our moss samples and screening the petri dishes we come across strange green objects of various geometry which obviously must be sorted into the vegetable compartment. The micro vegetable objects of the Munich pavement moss look quite appealing under the microscope, so we would like to share the visual impression wih you.

[ Moss Ufo ]

Vegetable object from a soaked pavement moss sample. The beginnings of duck weed? Or perhaps baby moss? Image width ca. 0.4 mm.

Not quite as attractive - but still appealing, an other item on the tardigrades' menu list. Probably an early seedling stage of the Grimmia pulvinata moss:

[ Grimmia pulvinata seedling ]

Probably an early seedling stage of the Grimmia pulvinata moss. Length 0.15 mm.

Now we can go back one step and investigate the development of the moss spores. For this sake we are going to separate a single stem of a Grimmia pulvinata moss cushion and look at it under sthe dissecting microscope. We will come across capsules of green and when ripe, brown colour.

[ Single stem from a Grimmia pulvinata moss cushion ]

Single stem from a Grimmia pulvinata moss cushion, measuring just a few millimeters in length.

We can separate one of those capsules from the moss cushion, by means of a scalpel, under the dissection microscope. Then we can lift its cap and knock the capsule onto the slide. The spores will come out:

[ A capsule of Grimmia pulvinata under the dissecting microscope ]

Opened capsule of a Grimmia pulvinata moss cushion. Length ca. 1 mm.

[ Spores of Grimmia pulvinata ]

Spores of Grimmia pulvinata from the inner volume of the capsule shown above.eren der oben gezeigten Kapsel. The diameter of such a Grimmia pulvinata spore is quite modest, close to 10 microns (or 1/100 of a millimeter).

Those spores turn out to be tough objects, difficult to investigate by means of the light microscope:

[ Spores of Grimmia pulvinata ]

Spores of Grimmia pulvinata. They are quite tiny, don't reveal much further detail, even at higher microscopic resolution. Just a slight flavour of a grainy surface and possible two opposite spindle caps?

In any case we would like to note that some of those moss delicacies are apparently evolving out of wet moss spores.

© Text, images and video clips by  Martin Mach  (webmaster@baertierchen.de).
Water Bear web base is a licensed and revised version of the German language monthly magazine  Bärtierchen-Journal . Style and grammar amendments by native speakers are warmly welcomed.

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