Moss Has Cloned Itself for 50,000 Years, Study Says
Hawaiian plant may be one of oldest multicellular organisms.
The peat moss Sphagnum palustre is found throughout the Northern Hemisphere, but the moss living in Hawaii appears to reproduce only through cloning, without the need for sex or production of spores.
(See "Group to Clone California Redwoods.")
All the moss populations sampled share a rare genetic marker, which suggests they're descended from a single founder plant that was carried via wind to Hawaii tens of thousands of years ago.
Since S. palustre is unisexual, having male and female plants, sexual reproduction would not have been possible, said study co-author Eric Karlin, a plant ecologist at Ramapo College in New Jersey.
"You would expect one founding plant to have this