Towards a less "moss-ist" world
In some scientific disciplines, mosses are considered "lower-class," or less advanced, organisms. But Dr. Ohad defends mosses as highly adaptive organisms, which after 450 million years are still with us. "The original moss ― Physcomitrella patens ― hasn't endured all these years, but its descendents have," he says. He adds that the study of the biology of moss is similar to the study of the biology of other ancient creatures, like crocodiles and flies, helping scientists to understand the evolution and function of basic biological mechanisms.
The researchers suggest that the basic function of the PcG mechanism in moss, common to its function in plants and humans, is in regulating cell differentiation, describing the point at which a stem cell "decides" to become a leaf or flower, for example.
"As they develop, stem cells go from having a non-defined function to a specific one," says Dr. Ohad. "If you don't know how to manipulate the type of tissue you want to modulate, replace or heal, you might cause the malfunction of another type of tissue."
According to Dr. Ohad, this research has direct implications for the study of plant biology, providing basic information on how the plant body and reproduction are regulated. It gives science a tool to control tissue specification, timing of reproduction and the development of traits in seeds that serve as the source for human and animal feed.
|Contact: George Hunka|
American Friends of Tel Aviv University