Rain falls and within seconds dried-up moss that's been virtually dead for decades unfurls in an explosion of green. The microscopic creatures living in the moss come out to feed. Scientists say the genes in these “resurrection plants” might one day protect crops from drought.
DEEP LOOK: a new ultra-HD (4K) short video series created by KQED San Francisco and presented by PBS Digital Studios. See the unseen at the very edge of our visible world. Get a new perspective on our place in the universe and meet extraordinary new friends. Explore big scientific mysteries by going incredibly small.
How does moss grow?
Mosses don’t have roots. Their porous cells absorb water like a sponge, whenever it’s available.
When there’s no rain, mosses dry out completely and stop photosynthesizing. That is, they stop using carbon dioxide and the light of the sun to grow. They’re virtually dead, reduced to a pile of chemicals, and can stay that way for years. Researchers have found dry, 100-year-old moss samples in a museum that came back to life when water was added.
Read an extended article on how scientists hope to use resurrection plants to create crops that can survive drought:
More great Deep Look episodes:
Where Are the Ants Carrying All Those Leaves?
What Happens When You Put a Hummingbird in a Wind Tunnel?
Pygmy Seahorses: Masters of Camouflage
See also another great video from the PBS Digital Studios!
It's Okay to Be Smart: Where Does the Smell of Rain Come From?
KQED Science: http://ww2.kqed.org/science
Funding for Deep Look is provided in part by PBS Digital Studios and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Deep Look is a project of KQED Science, which is supported by HopeLab, The David B. Gold Foundation; S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation; The Dirk and Charlene Kabcenell Foundation; The Vadasz Family Foundation; Smart Family Foundation and the members of KQED.