Peatlands with their huge diversity of peat moss species store about 30 percent of the earth’s soil carbon. This means they store roughly twice as much carbon as all the world’s forests combined. However, peat harvesting and climate change are threatening these long-term carbon stores because there is not enough founder material for cultivating peat mosses on a large scale. In collaboration with researchers from the University of Greifswald, a team of scientists led by plant biotechnologist Professor Ralf Reski from the Faculty of Biology of the University of Freiburg in Germany has established the world’s largest laboratory collection of mosses of the genus Sphagnum. With this as a foundation, peat mosses can be grown in a sustainable and economic way. The scientists have published their research in the scientific journal New Phytologist. Melanie Heck, a PhD student, is the first author.
For their project — called MOOSzucht —