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Department of Plant Sciences

Moss photo shortlisted in BBSRC competition

Voting for the BBSRC’s Images with Impact competition is online today at and Jill Harrison's entry ‘apical growth in a moss’ has been shortlisted.

In plants the overall shape reflects the pattern of branching, the pattern of leaf initiation and the relative growth of leaves initiated from the growing tip. These traits impact strongly on plant productivity because they affect light interception during photosynthesis. 

The aquatic algal relatives of the land were constrained to filamentous or mat-like planar forms, and a capacity to generate upright leafy shoots was gained as plants colonized land. This evolutionary transition is mirrored during normal development in modern mosses when leafy shoots initiate from a filamentous precursor tissue. 

The Evolution of Plant Body Plans lab aims to understand the developmental and genetic changes that allowed plants to gain new growth habits and radiate on land. 

About the image:

The entry shows the tip of a moss shoot in which the triangular apical stem cell has been exposed due to a hormone treatment that prevents leaves from developing. The results suggest a key role for plant hormones in the evolution of shoots and leaves.

The image was taken with a Zeiss confocal laser scanning microscope and the lab is funded by the BBSRC (BB/L00224811).