Adaptation to metals in widespread and endemic plants.
Bryophytes, including the mosses, liverworts, and hornworts, occur in a variety of habitats with high concentrations of metals and have other characteristics that are advantageous for studies of metal tolerance. Mosses may evolve genetically specialized, metal-tolerant races less frequently than flowering plants. Some species of mosses appear to have inherently high levels of metal tolerance even in individuals that have not been subjected to natural selection in contaminated environments. Scopelophila cataractae, one of the so-called copper mosses, not only tolerates extremely high concentrations of metals in its substrates, but requires these substrates for optimum growth. This species should be included in mechanistic studies of tolerance at the cellular and molecular levels.
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