Indian scientists discover new plant species in Antarctica
The biologists, based in the Central University of Punjab, have named the specie Bryum Bharatiensis. Bharati is the Hindu goddess of learning and the name of one of India's Antarctic research stations
Indian scientists have discovered a new plant species in Antarctica.
Polar biologists stumbled upon a species of moss during an expedition to the ice-covered continent in 2017, reports the BBC.
It took the scientists five years to confirm that the species had been discovered for the first time.
The peer-reviewed paper describing this discovery has been accepted in the leading international journal, Journal of Asia-Pacific Biodiversity.
The biologists, based in the Central University of Punjab, have named the specie Bryum Bharatiensis. Bharati is the Hindu goddess of learning and the name of one of India's Antarctic research stations.
Professor Felix Bast, a biologist who was part of the six-month-long expedition to the continent - the 36th by Indian scientists - discovered the dark green specie at Larsemann Hills, overlooking the Southern Ocean, in January 2017. This is located near Bharati, one of the remotest research stations in the world.
Plants needs 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," Bast said.
The scientists found that this moss mainly grew in areas where penguins bred in large numbers. Penguin poop has nitrogen.
"Basically, the plants here survive on penguin poop. It helps that the manure doesn't decompose in this climate," said Bast.