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Research described for the first time a species that survived for a long time.
An Antarctic moss has been reborn after spending more than 1,500 years under an ice sheet, a record that marks the longest life cycle of any known plant, a study by British scientists said in the United States.
The research, published in the journal Current Biology, describes the first time a moss has survived over a long period of time.
Until now, there was a record of a moss that was reborn after only 20 years. Bacteria were, until then, the only life form known to survive for thousands, even millions of years.
"This experiment demonstrates that multicellular organisms, plants in this case, can survive much longer periods of time than previously thought. This moss, a key part of the ecosystem, has survived centuries-old or millennial periods of ice advance, such as the Little Ice Age in Europe, "said Peter Convey of the British Antarctic Survey, one of the study's authors.
Scientists captured samples from the depths of a bank of frozen moss in Antarctica.
They cut the nuclei of this plant and placed them in an incubator at temperatures and light levels that would stimulate their growth under normal conditions. After a few weeks, the moss began to grow.
Carbon dating techniques showed that the original plants were at least 1,530 years old.
"While this is a big leap from the current discovery, it represents the possibility of complex life forms surviving even longer periods of time when stuck in permafrost or ice," said Convey.