Taxonomy: Physcomitrella patens is a true moss in the Funariaceae. This family has 6 genera in North America
Habitat: This moss is found from September to March in wet locations with damp soil. These sites often border water such as around lakes and rivers.
Distribution: Widely distributed in the northern hemisphere. Found in Northern and central Europe, Asia and eastern North America. It is also found in British Columbia. Despite its wide North America Range, it remains an uncommonly encountered moss.
Gametophyte appearance:Very small, ranging between 2-5mm in height. Yellow to light green in color. Stem frequently forked. Unbordered leaves, although maybe bluntly serrulate above middle. Long costa, ending near apex of acute to acuminate leaves.
Sporophyte appearance: The seta is very short. The indehiscent capsules ranges from 0.5-0.75mm in diameter, and are immersed, bluntly apiculate, globose, stomatose at base. There is no peristome. Exothecial cells are lax, thin walled and hexagonal in shape. Calyptra is very small conic-mitrate and smooth, scarcely lobed.
Spores: subreniform, brown, densely spinulose-papillose and range in size from 24-33um
Genetic Information: 27 small chromosomes, Genome size is 480 Mbp
Uses: This diminutive plant has become the model organism for the mosses. This was chosen partly based upon previous research into this species. Additionally, the small size makes it easy to cultivate. Physcomitrella patens also grows well on plates. Furthermore, large scale mutant libraries have been created. There is currently a full genome project on Physcomitrella patens.
Crum, H., Anderson, L.E. (1981) Mosses of Eastern North America. 2 Vol. Columbia University Press, New York.
Schween, G. et al. (2005) Large-scale analysis of 73329 Physcomitrella plants transformed with different gene disruption libraries: production parameters and mutant phenotypes. Plant Biol. 7:228-237
Schaefer, D.G. (2002) A new moss genetics: Targeted mutagenesis in Physcomitrella patens. Ann. Rev. Plant Biol. 53:477-501
Written by Dave Frankel