, Volume 91, Issue 2, pp 260–265

Relationship between frost tolerance and sugar concentration of various bryophytes in summer and winter

  • Dorothea Rütten
  • Kurt A. Santarius
Original Papers

DOI: 10.1007/BF00317794

Cite this article as:
Rütten, D. & Santarius, K.A. Oecologia (1992) 91: 260. doi:10.1007/BF00317794


Frost resistance, measured via the photosynthetic capacity after freeze-thaw treatment, and concentrations of sucrose, glucose and fructose of thalli of seven species of Bryidae and one species of Marchantiidae were determined from January to March and June to September, respectively. A distinct increase in cold tolerance from summer to winter was found in Polytrichum formosum Hedw., Atrichum undulatum (Hedw.) P. Beauv., Plagiomnium undulatum (Hedw.) Kop., Plagiomnium affine (Funck) Kop., Mnium hornum Hedw. and Pellia epiphylla (L.) Corda. While the frost resistance of the musci differed in summer and winter by 15° to more than 25° C, the hardening capacity of the thalloid liverwort was comparably low. Except in Mnium hornum, the increase in frost hardiness was accompanied by rise of the sucrose concentration in the cells, but insignificant changes in glucose and fructose contents. In contrast, Brachythecium rutabulum (Hedw.) B.S.G. and Hypnum cupressiforme Hedw. already exhibited high frost tolerances in summer, which coincided with high sucrose levels in the tissue, comparable to those found in other musci during the winter. Highly frost-resistant musci had total sugar concentrations around 90–140 mM, of which at least 80% and often more than 90% was sucrose. Artificial degradation of sucrose during exposure of mosses to higher temperatures resulted in a decline in cold hardiness. The results signify that the concentration of sugars, mainly of sucrose, may be important for the frost tolerance of bryophytes.

Key words

Bryophyta Frost resistance Photosynthesis (freezing) Seasonal variations (frost tolerance) Sugar concentration 

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dorothea Rütten
    • 1
  • Kurt A. Santarius
    • 1
  1. 1.Institut für ökologische Pflanzenphysiologie und GeobotanikUniversität DüsseldorfDüsseldorfFederal Republic of Germany

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