- NET Web Desk
In 2017, during India’s 36th expedition to the icy sheaths of Antarctica, polar biologists stumbled upon this moss species.
Samples were collected back in 2017.
It took researchers almost five years to confirm the moss species that had been discovered for the first time. The discovery points the grave concerns of climate change.
Prof Felix Bast, a biologist, member of the six-month-long expedition to the continent – the 36th by Indian scientists – discovered the dark green specie at Larsemann Hills.
Biologists, based in the Central University of Punjab, named the species Bryum bharatiensis. Bharati or generally termed ‘Saraswati’ is the Hindu goddess of learning. It also refers to India’s Antarctic research stations ‘Bharati’.
Such plants require nitrogen, along with potassium, phosphorus, sunlight and water to survive. Only 1% of Antarctica is ice free. “The big question was that how does moss survive in this landscape of rock and ice,” – a biologist, Prof Bast said.
The most interesting part of its survival deals with penguins. Scientists say this moss mainly grow in areas where penguins bred in large numbers. Penguin poop has nitrogen.
The peer-reviewed paper elaborating the discovery of such moss species has been accepted by the leading international journal, ‘Journal of Asia-Pacific Biodiversity’. It is an official journal of National Science Museum of Korea (NSMK) and Korea National Arboretum (KNA).
Established in 2012, Bharati is located in the Larsemann Hills. It is India’s third permanent base in Antarctica, after Dakshin Gangotri and Maitri.
Bharati is one of the remotest research stations in the world. Its proximity to the coast enables oceanographic research, along with the study of continental drift, adding to the understanding of the geological history of the Indian subcontinent and its linkages to Godwana.