Bryophyta: Mosses

Viridiophytes: green plants -> Embryophytes: Land plants

With about 12500 species the mosses comprise the largest clade of non-vascular plants. They are conspicuous members of virtually every terrestrial environment. The mosses (excluding Sphagnum and Andreaea) have traditionally been grouped into acrocarpous and pleurocarpous species. Acrocarpous mosses have archegonia that terminate the main stems and tend to be sparsely branched, while pleurocarpous mosses have archegonia borne laterally along branched procumbent or pendant stems. The mosses are further characterized by their peristome structure. Two very basic types are recognized. Nematodontous mosses with peristome teeth derived from whole dead cells and arthodontous mosses with peristome teeth the remnants of cell walls. In most recent phylogenetic studies of the mosses, Sphagnum and Takakia form a clade that is sister to all of the remaining mosses, and while there appears to be strong molecular support for this relationship, there are no apparent morphological features that unite them. In fact these two groups are notable for their distinct and very different gametophytes. Those of Takakia resemble liverworts, while those of Sphagnum are large and characterized by a number of distinct features. Andreaea and Andreaeobryum form a second clade that has diverged early in the evolution of mosses. Another intriguing result is the emergence of Oedopodium (Tetraphidiales) as sister to all the remaining peristomate mosses. Oedopodium is a small acrocarpous moss with soft obovate to spathulate leaves, erect capsules with a well-developed, long tapered sterile neck and a well-developed operculum but with no peristome. The species is uncommon but reported from Alaska, Greenland, Britain, Scandinavia and Japan. It has a disjunct distribution in the southern hemisphere where it is found on the Falkland Islands.

Indigenous or exotic to New Zealand.

NZ Flora Web Site Link to the Ngā Tipu o Aotearoa Database

Buck, W.R., Goffinet, B., 2000. Morphology and classification of mosses. In: Shaw, A.J., Goffinet, B. (Eds.), Bryophyte Biology. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, pp. 71–123.
Cox, C. J.; Goffinet, B.; Shaw, J. A.; Boles, S. B. 2004. Phylogenetic relationships among the mosses based on heterogeneous bayesian analysis of multiple genes from multiple genomic compartments. Systematic Botany 29: 234-250
Cox, C.J., Goffinet, B., Newton, A.E., Shaw, A.J., Hedderson, T.A., 2000. Phylogenetic relationships among the diplolepidous-alternatemosses (Bryidae) inferred from nuclear and chloroplast DNA sequences. Bryologist 103, 224–241.
De Luna, E., Buck, W.R., Akiyama, H., Arikawa, T., Tsubota, H., Gonzalez, D., Newton, A.E., Shaw, A.J., 2000. Ordinal phylogeny within the hypnobryalean pleurocarpous mosses inferred from cladistic analyses of three chloroplast DNA sequence data sets: trnL-F, rps4, and rbcL. Bryologist 103, 242–256.
Goffinet, B., 2000. Origin and phylogenetic relationships of bryophytes. In: Shaw, A.J., Goffinet, B. (Eds.), Bryophyte Biology. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, pp. 124–149.
Goffinet, B., Hedderson, T.A., 2000. Evolutionary biology of the Bryopsida (Mosses): a synthesis—introductory comments. Bryologist 103, 185–186.
Newton, A.E., Duckett, J.G., Wheeler, J.A., Goffinet, B., Hedderson, T.A., Mishler, B.D., 2000. Evolution of the major moss lineages: phylogenetic analyses based on multiple gene sequences and morphology. Bryologist 103, 187–211
Shaw, J.; Renzaglia, K. 2004: Phylogeny and diversification of Bryophytes. American Journal of Botany 91: 1557-1581.
Last updated: 05-Mar-2013