Scientists used genome sequencing and computational biology to reveal the genetic profile of a new species of moss, Sphagnum magni, commonly found in the southeastern United States. Author: Blanco Aguero, Duke University

A team from Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Duke University and other institutions studying sphagnum moss has identified two new species in North America and is studying how evolution may affect the species’ role in carbon storage.

Studying moss samples from remote habitats, researchers used genome sequencing and advanced computing to identify differences within the Sphagnum magellanicum complex. So far, they have found S. magni and S. diabolicum, which differ in geographic distribution and may have evolved in response to climate.

“Understanding their evolution and genetic diversitywe can begin to link some of the traits of these organisms to their effect on the carbon cycle,” said ORNL’s Brian Piatkowski.

Sphagnum is the main engineer of the peatlands of the Northern Hemisphere, where a third of the earth’s carbon is stored. Moss’s answer to higher temperatures can provide predictions of how much carbon will remain in the soil or be released into the atmosphere.

  • A study of the moss genome revealed two new species

    The hardwood hammock forests of Florida are typical southern habitat for S. magni. By Jonathan Shaw, Duke University

  • A study of the moss genome revealed two new species

    Another recently discovered Sphagnum species, S. diabolicum, is commonly found in habitats in the northern United States. By Jonathan Shaw, Duke University

Additional information:
A. Jonathan Shaw et al., Phylogenomic structure and speciation in a new model: the Sphagnum magellanicum complex (Bryophyta), New phytologist (2022). DOI: 10.1111/nph.18429

Citation: Moss genome study reveals two new species (October 4, 2022) Retrieved October 4, 2022, from

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