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Concept: Sphagnum


In this study, active magnetic biomonitoring of moss for particulate air pollution and an assessment of heavy metals and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) were performed for the entire metropolitan area of Belgrade. Two mosses, Sphagnum girgensohnii (a species of the most recommended biomonitoring moss genus) and Hypnum cupressiforme (a common moss in the study area), were used. During the summer of 2013, moss bags were exposed at 153 sampling sites, forming a dense network of sites. A type II regression model was applied to test the interchangeable use of the two moss species. Significantly higher levels of all measured pollutants were recorded by S. girgensohnii in comparison with H. cupressiforme. Based on the results, the mosses could not be interchangeably used in urban areas, except for the biomonitoring of Cu. Nevertheless, according to the relative accumulation factors obtained for both moss species, similar city zones related to high, moderate and low levels of air pollution were distinguished. Moreover, new pollution hotspots, omitted by regulatory monitoring, were identified. The results demonstrate that moss magnetic analysis represents an effective first step for obtaining an overview of particulate air pollution before more expensive chemical analyses. Active moss biomonitoring could be applied as a pragmatic approach for optimizing the representativeness of regulatory monitoring networks.

Concepts: Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon, Pollution, Particulate, Air pollution, Moss, Metropolitan area, Mosses, Sphagnum


Phosphate rock fertilization is commonly used in peatland restoration to promote the growth of Polytrichum strictum, a nurse plant which aids the establishment of Sphagnum mosses. The present study tested whether 1) phosphorus fertilization facilitates the germination of P. strictum spores and 2) biochar derived from local pig manure can replace imported phosphate rock currently used in peatland restoration. Various doses of biochar were compared to phosphate rock to test its effect directly on P. strictum stem regeneration (in Petri dishes in a growth chamber) and in a simulation of peatland restoration with the moss layer transfer technique (in mesocoms in a greenhouse). Phosphorus fertilization promoted the germination of P. strictum spores as well as vegetative stem development. Biochar can effectively replace phosphate rock in peatland restoration giving a new waste management option for rural regions with phosphorus surpluses. As more available phosphorus was present in biochar, an addition of only 3-9 g m(-2) of pig manure biochar is recommended during the peatland restoration process, which is less than the standard dose of phosphate rock (15 g m(-2)).

Concepts: Plant, Soil, Phosphate, Phosphorus, Moss, Manure, Mosses, Sphagnum


Terrestrial mosses are commonly used as bioindicators of atmospheric pollution. However, there is a lack of standardization of the biomonitoring preparation technique and the efficiency of metal adsorption by various moss species is poorly known. This is especially true for in vitro-cultivated moss clones, which are promising candidates for a standardized moss-bag technique. We studied the adsorption of copper and zinc on naturally grown Sphagnum peat moss in comparison with in vitro-cultivated Sphagnum palustre samples in order to provide their physico-chemical characterization and to test the possibility of using cloned peat mosses as bioindicators within the protocol of moss-bag technique. We demonstrate that in vitro-grown clones of S. palustre exhibit acid-base properties similar to those of naturally grown Sphagnum samples, whereas the zinc adsorption capacity of the clones is approx. twice higher than that of the samples from the field. At the same time, the field samples adsorbed 30-50% higher amount of Cu(2+) compared to that of the clones. This contrast may be related to fine differences in the bulk chemical composition, specific surface area, morphological features, type and abundance of binding sites at the cell surfaces and in the aqueous solution of natural and cloned Sphagnum. The clones exhibited much lower concentration of most metal pollutants in their tissues relative to the natural samples thus making the former better indicators of low metal loading. Overall, in vitro-produced clones of S. palustre can be considered as an adequate, environmentally benign substitution for protected natural Sphagnum sp. samples to be used in moss-bags for atmospheric monitoring.

Concepts: Chemistry, Soil, Activated carbon, Moss, BET theory, Mosses, Sphagnum, Sphagnopsida


In recent decades, mosses have been used as native species or as transplants in monitoring a wide range of pollutants from inorganic (i.e. metals and metalloids) to organic contaminants (mainly polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons-PAHs). To implement the use of mosses as biomonitors of PAHs, one important issue is the study of the interactions between these compounds and moss tissues. In this study we investigated the mode of phenanthrene uptake in four moss species (Amblystegium humile, Plagiomnium affine, Hypnum cupressiforme and a clone of Sphagnum palustre) and its movements from air to plant surface and within the biomonitors, using fluorescent and confocal microscopy. The target compound, partitioned between gas and particulate phase depending on air conditions, was selected since it is one of the most abundant PAHs released into the atmosphere. Our findings support the hypothesis that phenanthrene aggregates in particles and in this form it is chiefly intercepted and uptaken onto moss surfaces, albeit with different frequency in the four species, with S. palustre>H. cupressiforme>P. affine=A. humile. Phenanthrene enters the dead, empty hyalocysts of S. palustre. Specific surface area and composition, frequency and distribution of binding groups may also explain the different ability of phenanthrene uptake by the four moss species.

Concepts: Plant, Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon, Atmosphere, Differential geometry, Specific surface area, Moss, Mosses, Sphagnum


Sphagnum mosses and peat could have been utilized as wound dressings for centuries, however reliable data on this subject are ambiguous; sometimes even no distinction between peat moss (Sphagnum spp.) and peat is made or these terms become confused. The first scientific account on surgical use of peat comes from 1882: a peat digger who successfully, by himself and in the way unknown to the then medicine, cured an open fracture of his forearm with peat. The peat, and very soon the peat moss itself (which is the major constituent of peat) drew attention of the 19(th)-century surgeons.

Concepts: Soil, Moss, Bog, Mosses, Sphagnum, Sphagnopsida, Sphagnum affine


Mosses are well known as biomonitors of fresh water for metal pollutants, but no studies were reported so far about their ability to intercept plastic particles, although this kind of pollution has become an urgent issue worldwide. In the present work, the interaction between the moss Sphagnum palustre L. cultured in vitro and polystyrene nanoparticles (NPs) was studied for the first time in a laboratory experiment, in the view of using moss transplants for detecting microplastics in fresh water environments. The ability of S. palustre to intercept and retain polystyrene, and the effects of vitality and post-exposure washing on NP retention by moss were tested. Fluorescence microscope observations showed that polystyrene NPs were retained by moss leaves in form of small (the most abundant fraction) and large aggregates. Particle count analysis highlighted that the number of particles increased while increasing the exposure time. Moreover, moss devitalization favored NP accumulation, likely because of cell membrane damages occurred in dead moss material. Post-exposure washing induced a loss of larger aggregates, suggesting that exposure time is a key point to be carefully evaluated in field conditions. These results encourage the use of S. palustre transplants for monitoring microplastics contamination of fresh water environments.

Concepts: Environment, Plant, Freshwater, Moss, Shutter speed, Sphagnum, Sphagnopsida, Fresh Water


Bacteria play critical roles in peatland ecosystems. However, very little is known of how habitat heterogeneity affects the structure of the bacterial communities in these ecosystems. Here, we used amplicon sequencing of the 16S rRNA and nifH genes to investigate phylogenetic diversity and bacterial community composition in three different sub-Antarctic peat bog aquatic habitats: Sphagnum magellanicum interstitial water, and water from vegetated and non-vegetated pools. Total and putative nitrogen-fixing bacterial communities from Sphagnum interstitial water differed significantly from vegetated and non-vegetated pool communities (which were colonized by the same bacterial populations), probably as a result of differences in water chemistry and biotic interactions. Total bacterial communities from pools contained typically aquatic taxa, and were more dissimilar in composition and less species rich than those from Sphagnum interstitial waters (which were enriched in taxa typically from soils), probably reflecting the reduced connectivity between the former habitats. These results show that bacterial communities in peatland water habitats are highly diverse and structured by multiple concurrent factors.

Concepts: Archaea, Organism, Soil, Coal, Peat, Bog, Bord na Móna, Sphagnum


Sphagnum moss was collected from twenty-one ombrotrophic (rain-fed) peat bogs surrounding open pit mines and upgrading facilities of Athabasca Bituminous Sands in Alberta (AB). Compared with contemporary Sphagnum moss from four bogs in rural locations of southern Germany (DE), the AB mosses yielded lower concentrations of Ag, Cd, Ni, Pb, Sb and Tl, similar concentrations of Mo, but greater concentrations of Ba, Th and V. Except for V, compared to the “cleanest”, ancient peat samples ever tested from the northern hemisphere (ca. 6,000 to 9,000 years old), the concentrations of each of these metals in the AB mosses are within a factor of three of “natural, background” values. The concentrations of “heavy metals” in the mosses, however, are proportional to the concentration of Th (a conservative, lithophile element) and therefore are contributed to the plants primarily in the form of mineral dust particles. Vanadium, the single most abundant trace metal in bitumen, is the only anomaly: in the AB mosses V exceeds that of ancient peat by a factor of six; it is therefore enriched in the mosses, relative to Th, by a factor of two. Compared with the surface layer of peat cores collected in recent years from across Canada, from British Columbia to New Brunswick, the Pb concentrations in the mosses from AB are far lower.

Concepts: Iron, Coal, Heavy metal music, Moss, Bog, Fen, Sphagnum, Sphagnopsida


Sphagnum moss extract residue (SMER), obtained after pressurized hot water extraction, was modified with Fe(III) and investigated for phosphate sorption. Although moss extract contains value-added compounds, SMER is considered to be waste until suitable uses can be developed. The effect of modification conditions were investigated, i.e. different initial Fe(III) concentrations (0.024, 0.048 and 0.072 mol/L Fe3+) and modification pH values (5, 7 and 9). A modification pH of 5 and the highest initial Fe(III) concentration (0.072 mol/L Fe3+) resulted in the highest phosphate removal efficiency, and thus was selected for further study. The removal efficiency was found to decrease with increasing pH in the range of 3-9. Maximum removal efficiency (82%) for phosphate sorption was observed at pH 3 after 24 h contact time (dosage 2 g/L, initial concentration 15 mg P/L). With increased contact time, the phosphate removal efficiency improved and reached equilibrium within 48 h. The Elovich model was found to provide the best fit to the kinetic data. A capacity of 9-13 mg P/g was obtained with a 24-h contact time at pH 4. A good fit was achieved with the Redlich-Peterson equation. FTIR analysis confirmed that carboxylic acid groups were involved in the modification process. X-ray diffraction analyses showed that amorphous two-line ferrihydrite was precipitated onto SMER, which was supported by X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy analyses.

Concepts: Diffraction, X-ray, PH, Carboxylic acid, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, Moss, Sphagnum, Sphagnopsida


Understanding the immediate and longer-term effects of transportation and re-housing in a laboratory species is crucial in order to refine the transfer process, enable the optimal introduction of new animals to a novel environment and to provide a sufficient acclimatisation period before usage. Whilst consideration of animal welfare in most model vertebrate species has received attention, little quantitative evidence exists for the optimal care of the common laboratory amphibian Xenopus laevis. Techniques for the non-invasive welfare assessment of amphibians are also limited and here a non-invasive physiological assay was developed to investigate the impacts of transportation, transport medium and re-housing on X. laevis. First the impacts of transportation and transport medium (water, damp sponge or damp sphagnum moss) were investigated. Transportation caused an increase in water-borne corticosterone regardless of transport medium. Frogs transported in damp sphagnum moss also had a greater decrease in body mass in comparison to frogs not transported, suggesting that this is the least suitable transport medium for X. laevis. Next the prolonged impacts of transportation and re-housing were investigated. Frogs were transported between research facilities with different housing protocols. Samples were collected prior to and immediately following transportation, as well as 1 day, 7 days and 35 days after re-housing. Water-borne corticosterone increased following transportation and remained high for at least 7 days, decreasing to baseline levels by 35 days. Body mass decreased following transportation and remained lower than baseline levels across the entire 35 day observation period. These findings suggest the process of transportation and re-housing is stressful in this species. Together these findings have important relevance for both improving animal welfare and ensuring optimal and efficient scientific research.

Concepts: Scientific method, Animal, Transport, Vertebrate, Amphibian, Frog, Moss, Sphagnum