Skip to main content
SLU publication database (SLUpub)
Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2018

Under which humidity conditions are moss spores released? A comparison between species with perfect and specialized peristomes

Zanatta, Florian; Vanderpoorten, Alain; Hedenas, Lars; Johansson, Victor; Patino, Jairo; Lonnell, Niklas; Hylander, Kristoffer


Dispersal is a fundamental biological process that can be divided into three phases: release, transportation, and deposition. Determining the mechanisms of diaspore release is of prime importance to understand under which climatic conditions and at which frequency diaspores are released and transported. In mosses, wherein spore dispersal takes place through the hygroscopic movements of the peristome, the factors enhancing spore release has received little attention. Here, we determine the levels of relative humidity (RH) at which peristome movements are induced, contrasting the response of species with perfect (fully developed) and specialized (reduced) peristomes. All nine investigated species with perfect peristomes displayed a xerochastic behavior, initiating a closing movement from around 50%-65% RH upon increasing humidity and an opening movement from around 90% RH upon drying. Five of the seven species with specialized peristomes exhibited a hygrochastic behavior, initiating an opening movement under increasing RH (from about 80%) and a closing movement upon drying (from about 90%). These differences between species with hygrochastic and xerochastic peristomes suggest that spore dispersal does not randomly occur regardless of the prevailing climate conditions, which can impact their dispersal distances. In species with xerochastic peristomes, the release of spores under decreasing RH can be interpreted as an adaptive mechanism to disperse spores under optimal conditions for long-distance wind dispersal. In species with hygrochastic peristomes, conversely, the release of spores under wet conditions, which decreases their wind long-distance dispersal capacities, might be seen as a safe-site strategy, forcing spores to land in appropriate (micro-) habitats where their survival is favored. Significant variations were observed in the RH thresholds triggering peristome movements among species, especially in those with hygrochastic peristomes, raising the question of what mechanisms are responsible for such differences.


bryophytes; climatic conditions; dispersal; hygrochastic; peristome; spore; xerochastic

Published in

Ecology and Evolution
2018, Volume: 8, number: 23, pages: 11484-11491
Publisher: WILEY

      SLU Authors

    • Johansson, Victor

    • UKÄ Subject classification


      Publication identifier


      Permanent link to this page (URI)