Bryomonitoring of Environmental Pollution

  • Afroz Alam


Biological monitoring has become an important tool for evaluating the negative blow of human activities on the atmosphere. Due to ever-increasing population alongside other environmental problems, introduction of heavy metals in our surroundings is a huge drawback to the sustainable environment. Heavy metal pollution of the biosphere has augmented piercingly since 1900. These metals, though being deposited constantly in minute amounts, may build up in the surroundings over extended periods of time and will most likely create potential ecological and human wellbeing hazards in upcoming future. Thus, it appears very imperative to develop and perk up an enduring reflexive monitoring method to evaluate the nature and intensity of heavy metal and gaseous pollutions. In this review, the potential of bryophytes has been discussed in light of notable researches in this direction worldwide.


Atmosphere Air quality Bryophyta Heavy metals Indicator 


  1. Aboal JR, Real C, Fernandez JA, Carballeira A (2006) Mapping the results of extensive surveys: the case of atmospheric biomonitoring and terrestrial mosses. Sci Total Environ 356:256–274CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Alam A (2013) Bio-monitoring of metal deposit ion in Ranthambore National Park (Rajasthan), India using Plagiochasma rupestre (G. Frost) Stephani. Arch Bryol 186:1–10Google Scholar
  3. Alam A (2014) Bio-monitoring of metal deposition in Ranthambore National Park (Rajasthan), India using Riccia aravalliensis Pande et Udar. Elixir Bio Tech 69:22838–22842Google Scholar
  4. Alam A, Sharma V (2012) Seasonal variation in accumulation of heavy metals in Lunularia cruciata (Linn.) Dum. at Nilgiri hills, Western Ghats. Int J Biol Sci Eng 3(2):91–99Google Scholar
  5. Alam A, Srivastava SC (2009) Marchantia paleacea Bert.- as an indicator of heavy metal pollution. Indian J For 32(3):465–470Google Scholar
  6. Aničić UM (n.d.) Accessed on 25th Oct 2017
  7. Bargagli R (1998) Trace element in terrestrial plants. A ecophysiological approach to biomonitoring and Biorecovery. Springer, Berlin, p 324Google Scholar
  8. Bargagli R, Cateni D, Nelli L, Olmastroni S, Zagarese B (1997) Environmental impact of trace element emissions from geothermal power plants. Arch Environ Contam Toxicol 33:172–181CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Bates JW (1992) Influence of chemical and site factors on Quercus and Fraxinus epiphytes at Loch Sunart, western Scotland: a multivariate analysis. J Ecol 80:163–179CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Berg T, Røyset O, Steinnes E (1995) Moss hylocomium splendens used as biomonitor of atmospheric trace element deposition: estimation of uptake efficiencies. Atmos Environ 29:353–360CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Berg T, Hjebrekke AG, Larseen R (2001) Heavy metals and POPs within the EMEP region 1999. EMEP/CCC Report 9/2001. Norwegian Institute for Air ResearchGoogle Scholar
  12. Brown DH (1982) Mineral nutrition. In: Smith AJE (ed) Bryophyte ecology. Chapman and Hall, London, pp 383–444CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Brown DH, Bates JW (1990) Bryophyte and nutrient cycling. Bot J Linn Soc 104:129–147CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Brown DH, Brûmelis G (1996) A biomonitoring method using the cellular distribution of metals in mosses. Sci Total Environ 187:153–161CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Brûmelis G, Brown DH (1997) Movement of metals to new growing tissues on the Moss Hylocomium Splendens (Hedw). BSG. Ann Bot 79:679–686CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Buse A, Norris D, Harmens H (2003) Heavy metal in European Mosses: 2000/2001 Survey. UNECE ICP Vegetation. Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Bangor, UK p 45Google Scholar
  17. Calasans C, Malm O (1997) Elemental mercury contamination survey in a chlor-alkali plant by the use of transplanted Spanish moss, Tillandsia usneoides (L.) Sci Total Environ 208:165–177CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Carballeira A, Fernández JA (2002) Bioconcentration of metals in the moss Scleropodium purum in the area surrounding a power plant A geotopographical predictive model for mercury. Chemosphere 47:1041–1048CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Carpi A, Weinstein LH, Ditz DW (1994) Bioaccumulation of mercury by Sphagnum moss near a municipal solid waste incinerator. Air Waste 44:669–672CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Čeburnis D, Valiulis D (1999) Investigation of absolute metal uptake efficiency from precipitation in Moss. Sci Total Environ 226:247–253CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Čeburnis D, Steinnes E, Kveitkus K (1999) Estimation of metal uptake efficiencies from assessment-a review. Environ Pollut 114:471–492Google Scholar
  22. Chakrabortty S, Jha SK, Paratkar GT, Puranik VD (2004) Distribution of trace elements in Moss biomonitors near Mumbai. Evansia 21(4):180–188Google Scholar
  23. Chakrabortty S, Jha SK, Puranik VD, Paratkar GT (2006) Use of Mosses and Lichens as biomonitors in the study of air pollution near Mumbai. Evansia 23:1–8Google Scholar
  24. Couto JA, Fernandez J, Aboal JR, Carballeira A (2004) Active biomonitorng of element uptake with terrestrial mosses: a comparison of bulk and dry deposition. Sci Total Environ 324:211–222CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. Culicov OA, Frontasyeva MV, Steinnes E, Okina OS, Santa Z, Todoran R (2002) Atmospheric deposition of heavy metals around the lead and copper-zinc smelters in Baia Mare, Romania, studied by the moss biomonitoring technique, neutron activation analysis and flame atomic absorption spectrometry. J Radioanal Nucl Chem 254(1):109–115CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Culicov OA, Mocanu R, Frontasyeva MV, Yurukova L, Steinnes E (2005) Active Moss biomonitoring applied to an industrial site in Romania: relative accumulation of 36 elements in Moss-bags. Environ Monit Assess 108:22CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. De Caritat P, Reimann C, Bogatyrev I, Chekuskin V, Finne TE, Halleraker JH, Kashulina G, Niskavaara H, Pavlov V (2001) Regional distribution of Al, B, Ba, Ca, K, La, Mg, Mn, Na, P, Rb, Si, Sr, Th, U and Y in terrestrial Moss within a 188,000 km2 area of the central barents region: influence of geology, Seaspray, and Uuman activity. Appl Geochem 16:137–159CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Fernández JA, Carballeira A (2001) A comparison of indigenous mosses and topsoils for use in monitoring atmospheric heavy metal deposition in Galicia (Northwest Spain). Environ Pollut 114(3):431–441CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. Fernández JA, Aboal JR, Carballeira A (2000) Use of native and transplanted mosses as complementary techniques for biomonitoring mercury around an industrial facility. Sci Total Environ 256(2–3):51–61Google Scholar
  30. Fernández JÁ, Aboal JR, Real C, Carballeira A (2007) A new moss biomonitoring method for detecting sources of small scale pollution. Atmos Environ 41(10):2098–2110CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Ford J, Landers D, Kugler D, Lasorsa B, Crecelius E, Martinson J (1995) Inorganic contaminants in Arctic Alaskan ecosystem: long range atmospheric transport or local point sources. Sci Total Environ 160:323–335CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Gana MG, Yurukova LD (2006) Biomonitoring in running river water with aquatic bryophytes. Scientific Articles. Ecology, Part 2. 209–216Google Scholar
  33. Gecheva G, Yurukova L (2014) Water pollutant monitoring with aquatic bryophytes: a review. Environ Chem Lett 12(1):49–61CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Gerdol R, Bragazza L, Marchesini R (2002) Element concentrations in the forest moss Hylocomium splendens: variations associated with altitude, net primary production and soil chemistry. Environ Pollut 116:129–135CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  35. Giordana S, Sorbo S, Adamo P, Basile A, Spagnuola V, Castaldo Cobianchi R (2004) Biodiversity and trace element content of epiphytic bryophytes in urban and extraurban sites of southern Italy. Plant Ecol 170:1–14CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Giordano S, Adamo P, Sorbo S, Vingiani S (2005) Atmospheric trace metal pollution in the Naples urban area based on results from Moss and Lichen bags. Environ Pollut 136(3):431–442CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  37. Gjengedal E, Steinnes E (1990) Uptake of metal ions in Moss from artificial precipitation. Environ Monit Assess 14:77–87CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  38. Govindapyari H, Leleeka M, Nivedita M, Uniyal PL (2010) Bryophytes: indicators and monitoring agents of pollution. NeBIO 1(1):35–41Google Scholar
  39. Gupta A (1995) Heavy metal accumulation by three species of mosses in Shillong, North-Eastern India. Water Air Soil Pollut 82(3–4):751–756. Scholar
  40. Hutten M, Woodward A, Hutten K (2005) Inventory of the mosses, liverworts, hornworts, and lichens of Olympic National Park, Washington: species list, Scientific Investigations Report. 1–5240. U.S. Geological Survey, Reston, pp 1–86Google Scholar
  41. Jonathan SS, Lehman ME (2002) Bioindication of atmospheric heavy metal deposition in the Southeastern US using the moss Thuidium delicatulum. Atmos Environ 36:1611–1618CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Kolon K, Samecka-Cymerman A, Kempers AJ, Alexander JK, Lucyna M (2010) Pleurozium schreberi of the Tatra mountains (Poland) used as a bioindicational system for observing long range atmospheric transport of chemical elements. J Atmos Chem 66:157–166. Scholar
  43. Krommer V, Zechmeister HG, Roder I, Scharf S, Hanus-Illnar A (2007) Monitoring atmospheric pollutants in the biosphere reserve Wienerwald by a combined approach of biomonitoring methods and technical measurements. Chemosphere 67:1956–1966CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  44. Lodenius M (1998) Dry and wet deposition near a chlor-alkali plant. Sci Total Environ 213:53–56CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Loppi S, Bonini I (2000) Lichens and mosses as biomonitors of trace elements in areas with thermal springs and fumarole activity (Mt. Amiata, Central Italy). Chemosphere 41:1333–1336CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  46. Lukáš Č, Oto K, Vítězslav P (2017) Modeling the distribution of rare and interesting moss species of the family Orthotrichaceae (Bryophyta) in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. Acta Soc Bot Pol 86(2):35–43Google Scholar
  47. Macedo-Miranda G, Avila-Pérez P, Gil-Vargas P, Zarazúa G, Sánchez-Meza JC, Zepeda-Gómez C, Tejeda S (2016) Accumulation of heavy metals in mosses: a biomonitoring study. Springerplus 5(1):715CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  48. Makholm MM, Mladenoff DJ (2005) Efficacy of a biomonitoring (moss bag) technique for determining element deposition on a mid-range (375) km scale. Environ Monit Assess 104(1–3):1–18CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  49. Mäkinen A (1994) Biomonitoring of atmospheric deposition in the Kola Peninsula (Russia) and Finnish Lapland, based on the chemical analysis of mosses. Minist Environ Rapp 4:1–83Google Scholar
  50. Mankovska B (1994) Airborne sulphur and heavy metal pollution in the environment of a thermal plant. Ekologia (Bratislava) 13(2):207–217Google Scholar
  51. Marinova S, Yurukova L, Frotasyeva MV et al (2010) Air pollution studies in Bulgaria using the moss biomonitoring technique. Ecol Chem Eng S 17:37–52Google Scholar
  52. Markert B, Weckert V (1989) Time and site integrated long-term biomonitoring of chemicals by means of mosses. Toxicol Environ Chem 40:177–189Google Scholar
  53. Markert B, Oehlmann J, Roth M (1997) General aspects of heavy metal monitoring by plants and animals. In: Subramanian G, Iyengar V (eds) Environmental biomonitoring – exposure assessment and specimen banking, ACS Symposium Series 654. American Chemical Society, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  54. Markert B, Wappelhorst O, Weckert V, Herpin U, Siewers U, Friese K, Breulmann G (1999) The use of bioindicators for monitoring the heavy-metal status of the environment. J Radioanal Nucl Chem 240(2):425–429CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Markert BA, Breure AM, Zechmeister HG (2003) In: Markert BA, Breure AM, Zechmeister HG (eds) Definitions, strategies, and principles for Bioindication/biomonitoring of the environment. Elsevier, Oxford, pp 3–39Google Scholar
  56. Martin MH, Coughtrey PJ (1982) Biological monitoring of heavy metal pollution. Land, and Air Appl Sci Publishers, London, pp 136–142CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Nath V, Sinha S, Asthana AK, Sahu V (2010) A study on metal accumulation in two selected bryophytes. Env Sci Ind J 5(1):42–45Google Scholar
  58. Nriagu JO (1979) Global inventory of natural and anthropogenic emissions of trace metals to the atmosphere. Nature 279(5712):409–411CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  59. Økland T, Økland RH, Steinnes E (1999) Element concentrations in the Boreal Forest Moss hylocomium splendens: variations related to gradients in vegetation and local environmental factors. Plant Soil 209:71–83CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Onianwa PC (2001) Monitoring atmospheric metal pollution: a review of the use of mosses as indicators. Environ Monit Assess 71:13–50CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  61. Palmieri F, Neri R, Benco C, Serracca L (1997) Lichens and moss as bioindicators and bioaccumulators in air pollution monitoring. J Environ Path Toxicol Oncol 16(2–3):175–190Google Scholar
  62. Pant G, Tewari SD (1998) Bryophytes as biogeoindicators: Bryophytic Associations of Mineral enriched substrates in Kumaon Himalaya. In: Chopra RN (ed) Topics in Bryology. Allied Publishers Ltd, New Delhi, p 202Google Scholar
  63. Pesch R, Schroeder W (2006) Mosses as Bioindicators for metal accumulation: statistical aggregation of measurement data to exposure indices. Ecol Indic 6(1):137–152CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Poikolainen J (2004) Mosses, epiphytic lichens and tree bark as biomonitors for air pollutants—specially for heavy metals in regional surveys. Dissertation, University of Oulu, OuluGoogle Scholar
  65. Pott U, Turpin D (1996) Changes in atmospheric trace element deposition in Fraser Valley, B.C., Canada from 1960–1993 measured by Moss monitoring with Isothecium Stoloniferum. Can J Bot 74:1345–1353CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Puckett KJ (1988) Bryophytes and lichens as monitor of metal deposition. Bibl Lichenol 30:231–267Google Scholar
  67. Rao DN (1982) Responses of bryophytes to air pollution. In: Smith AJE (ed) Bryophyte ecology. Springer, Dordrecht, pp 445–471CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Rasmussen L (1978) Element content of epiphytic Hypnum cupressiforme related to element content of the bark of different species of phorophytes. Lindbergia 4:209–218Google Scholar
  69. Reimann C, Halleraker JH, Kashulina G, Bogatyrev I (1999) Comparison of plant and precipitation chemistry in catchments with different levels of pollution in Kola Peninsula, Russia. Sci Total Environ 243(244):169–191CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Ross HB (1990) On the use of the mosses Hylocomium Splendens and Pleurozium schreberi for estimating atmospheric trace metal deposition. Water Air Soil Poll 50:63–76CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Ruhling A (ed) (1994) Atmospheric heavy metal deposition in Europe – estimations based on moss analysis. Nordic Council of Ministers, Copenhagen, p 9Google Scholar
  72. Ruhling A, Tyler G (1968) An ecological approach to the lead problem. Bot Notiser 122:248–342Google Scholar
  73. Ruhling A, Tyler G (1970) Sorption and retention of heavy metals in the woodland Moss Hylocomium splendens. Oikos 21:92–97CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Sahu V, Nath V, Asthana AK, Yunus M (2014) Marchantia paleacea Bertol. as quantitative biomonitor of atmospheric heavy metals deposition. J Recent Adv Appl Sci 29:22–27Google Scholar
  75. Samecka-Cymerman A, Kempers AJ (1995) Preliminary investigations into the bioaccumulation of mercury by the liverwort Scapania undulata (L.) Dum. Ecotoxicol Env Safety 31:57–61CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Sawidis T, Zachariadis G, Stratis J, Eukakis L (1993) Mosses as biological indicators for monitoring of heavy metal pollution. Environ Bull 2:26–229Google Scholar
  77. Saxena A (2006) Seasonal pattern of metal bioaccumulation and their toxicity on Sphagnum squarrosum. J Environ Biol 27:71–75PubMedGoogle Scholar
  78. Saxena DK, Saxena A, Srivastava HS (2000) Biomonitoring of metal precipitation at petrol pumps and their effect on moss Sphagnum cuspidatum Hoffm. J Environ Stud Policy 3:95–102Google Scholar
  79. Saxena DK, Srivastava K, Singh S (2008) Biomonitoring of metal deposition by using moss transplant method through Hypnum cupressiforme (Hedw.) in Mussoorie. J Env Biol 29(5):683–688Google Scholar
  80. Saxena DK, Tuba Z, Arfeen MS (2010) Seasonal passive metal monitoring during year 2003 to 2006 in Nainital of Kumaon hills (INDIA) by moss Racomitrium crispulum. Acta Bot Hung 52(1–2):273–297Google Scholar
  81. Shakya K, Chettri MK, Swidis T (2004) Appraisal of some mosses for biomonitoring airborne heavy metals in Kathmandu valley. An Intl J Ecol 11(1).
  82. Singh S, Srivastava K, Gahtori D, Saxena DK (2017) Bryomonitoring of atmospheric elements in Rhodobryum giganteum (Schwaegr.) Par., growing in Uttarakhand region of Indian Himalayas. Aerosol Air Qual Res 17:810–820CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  83. Steinnes E (1977) Atmospheric deposition of trace elements in Norway studied by means of Moss analysis, Kjeller Report, KR 154. Institute for Atomenegri, KjellerGoogle Scholar
  84. Steinnes E (1993) Some aspects of biomonitoring of air pollutants using mosses as illustrated by the 1976 Norwegian survey. In: Markert B (ed) Plants as biomonitors, indicators for heavy metals of the terrestrial environment. VCH Publishers, Weinheim, pp 381–339Google Scholar
  85. Steinnes E (1995) A critical evaluation of the use of naturally growing moss to monitor the deposition of atmospheric metals. Sci Total Environ 160(161):243–249CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  86. Sucharová J, Suchara I (2004) Distribution of 36 element deposition rates in a historic mining and smelting area as determined through fine-scale biomonitoring techniques. Part I: relative and absolute current atmospheric deposition levels detected by Moss analysis. Water Air Soil Poll 153:205–228CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  87. Thöni L, Schnyder N, Kreig F (1996) Comparisons of metal concentrations in three species of mosses and metal freights in bulk precipitations. Fresenius J Anal Chem 354:703–708Google Scholar
  88. Tyler G (1970) Moss analysis-a method for surveying heavy metal deposition. In: Englaund HM, Berry WT (eds) Proceedings of the Second International Clean Air Congress. Academic, New York, pp 129–132Google Scholar
  89. Tyler G (1990) Bryophyte and heavy metals: a literature review. Bot J Linn Soc 104:231–253CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  90. Umweltbundesamt (2004) Recycling von phosphor verbessurn Presse-Information Nr. 103/2004. UBA-BerlinGoogle Scholar
  91. UNESCO (2016) United Nations environment programme, UNEP/POPS/POPRC. 12/11(2016) Report of the persistent organic pollutants review committee on the work of its twelfth meeting, 19–23 Sept 2016, RomeGoogle Scholar
  92. Walkenhorst A, Hagemeyer J, Breckle WS (1993) Passive monitoring of air borne pollutants, peculiarly trace metals, with tree bark. In: Markert B (ed) Plants as biomonitors. Indicators for heavy metals in the terrestrial environment. VCH, Weinheim, pp 523–540Google Scholar
  93. Wang S, Zhang Z, Wang Z (2015) Bryophyte communities as biomonitors of environmental factors in the Goujiang karst bauxite, southwestern China. Sci Total Environ 15(538):270–278. Scholar
  94. Wappelhorst O, Kuhn I, Oehlmann J, Markert B (2000) Deposition and disease: a moss monitoring project as an approach to ascertaining potential connections. Sci Total Environ 249(1–3):243–256CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  95. Wolterbeek HT, Bode P, Verburg TG (1996) Assessing the quality of biomonitoring via signal-to-noise ratio analysis. Sci Total Environ 180:107–116CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  96. Zawadzki K, Samecka-Cymerman A, Kolon K, Wojtuń B, Mróz L, Kempers AJ (2016) Metals in Pleurozium schreberi and Polytrichum commune from areas with various levels of pollution. Environ Sci Pollut Res Int 23:11100–11108CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  97. Zechmeister HG (1995) Correlation between altitude and heavy metal deposition in Alps. Environ Pollut 89:73–80CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  98. Zechmeister HG, Dirnböck T, Hülber K, Mirtl M (2007) Assessing airborne pollution effects on bryophytes lessons learned through long-term integrated monitoring in Austria. Environ Pollut 147:696–705CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  99. Zeichmeister HG (1998) Annual growth of four pleurocarpous Moss species and their applicability for biomonitoring heavy metals. Environ Monit Assess 52:441–451CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  100. Zeichmeister HG, Grodzinska K, Szarek-Lukaszewska G (2003a) In: Markert BA, Breure AM, Zeichmeister HG (eds) Bryophytes. Elsevier, Oxford, pp 329–375Google Scholar
  101. Zeichmeister HG, Hohenwallner D, Riss A, Hanus-Illnar A (2003b) Variation in heavy metal concentrations in the Moss species Abietinella abietina (Hedw.) Fleisch according to sampling time, within site variability and increase in biomass. Sci Total Environ 301:55–65CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  102. Zechmeister HG, Dirnböck T, Hülber K, Mirtl M (2007) Assessing airborne pollution effects on bryophytes – lesson learned through long-term integrated monitoring in Austria. Environ Pollut 147:696–705CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Afroz Alam
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Bioscience and BiotechnologyBanasthali VidyapithBanasthaliIndia

Personalised recommendations