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  • Hi guys, I'm Claire, host of this YouTube series and author of the website

  • Today I'm going to be talking about some really cool research into mosses, fertilization and

  • volatile compounds.

  • You're probably familiar with plant-pollinator relationships. Pollinators, like bees, butterflies,

  • bats or even lemurs, visit the flowers on angiosperms--flowering plants--and transfer

  • pollen between them. This allows that pollen to fertilize egg cells and further reproduction.

  • Flowers often offer incentives, like nectar, for pollinators and evolved things like bright

  • colors to attract their attention. Hummingbirds, for example, are drawn to bright red flowers,

  • like torch lilies, and bees follow ultraviolet nectar guides when visiting flowers.

  • Mosses, however, are not angiosperms, so they don't have flowers. And if you'd like a quick

  • intro to the moss life cycle, you can check out this video that I made a few weeks ago.

  • It has long been assumed that mosses are fertilized only with the help of water. When it rains,

  • the moss sperm cells swim through the water using their two flagellum to get to egg cells

  • and fertilize them. Recent research has shown, however, that springtails and mites aid in

  • fertilization of mosses, much like angiosperm pollinators.

  • A study by Todd Rosenstiel and his team, published in Nature, has even shown that mosses produce

  • volatile compounds to attract microarthropods like springtails. The study looked at the

  • moss Ceradon purpureus and springtails, tiny arthropods that live in leaf litter. Researchers

  • found that the moss produced sex-specific volatile scents, meaning that the male moss

  • and the female moss produce different compounds. In part of the experiment, they gave springtails

  • the choice between male moss and female moss, and found that springtails much preferred

  • the compounds given off by female moss.

  • And finally, researchers compared fertilization rates in samples with and without water spray,

  • to simulate rain, or with and without springtails. Both water and springtails separately increased

  • fertilization rates, though springtails more-so. Having both water spray and springtails made

  • the fertilization rates sky rocket.

  • What this means is that having both rain and microarthropods like springtails is the optimum

  • condition for fertilization in mosses. This makes sense, since mosses grow in the leaf

  • litter, where microarthropods live, and also in damp environments. This is exciting because

  • we already have research that shows that some angiosperms give off scents to attract pollinators,

  • but research into this type of relationship in mosses is new. It's amazing as small as

  • springtails, which are only a few millimeters long, and mosses can this complex of a relationship.

  • If you have any questions about mosses, plants or pollinators, please let me know. This has

  • been Brilliant Botany Episode Ten, thank you for watching. Don't forget to like and subscribe,

  • and I'll see you next time.

Hi guys, I'm Claire, host of this YouTube series and author of the website

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