High altitude Antarctic soil propagule bank yields an exotic moss and potential colonist

Soil samples from the summit of Coulman Island in northern Victoria Land, continental Antarctica (lat. 73o28'S, 169o45'E) were cultured and after nine weeks they have yeilded sterile shoots of a funarialean moss. Its identity is discussed and, on the basis of the leaf shape, it is determined, with some reservations, as Entosthodon subnudus (Taylor) Fife, a species native to the Australia-New Zealand biogeographical province. This example provides further evidence of the existence of soil propagule banks, sometimes containing taxa not known in the flora of the Antarctic biome. Because of the severity of the polar climate and permanently frigid dry desert conditions, many such propagules may never succeed in growing in situ. The occurrence of E. subnudus represents the highest elevation (2930m) at which a viable plant propagule has been recorded in Antarctica.


Publication status:
Authors: Smith, Ronald I. Lewis, Ochyra, Ryszard

1 January, 2006
Journal of the Hattori Botanical Laboratory