Mandy Slate

University of Montana

I share an interest in the ecophysiology of moss desiccation tolerance and work closely with members of the Stark and Deane-Coe labs to address fundamental gaps in our understanding of moss desiccation tolerance.


My research group at UM intersects with the Dimensions Project in two ways. First we are interested in better understanding the process of rehydration from as desiccated state. In nature, ambient humidity levels increase prior to and during rain events. Increasing humidity levels should allow poikiohydric mosses to absorb water vapor directly from the air influencing their tissue water content prior to actual rehydration in liquid water. Prehydration is expected to mitigate the intensity of cellular damage from desiccation as it eases the cell into the rehydrated and full turgor state.  Prehydration may also influence the rate at which desiccated mosses rehydrate. We expect that this rate of rehydration should be tied to the desiccation tolerance strategy of a particular species. We expect to find that constitutively desiccation tolerant species will rehydrate more quickly than inducibly desiccation tolerant species. We are currently investigating these two poorly understood parameters.

Most moss leaves are only one cell thick, so altering the size of the cell or leaf can have a significant influence on the ability of the plant to take up and retain water. We are currently quantifying cellular, leaf, and shoot level differences for the many species of Syntrichia being studied in this project.

Undergraduate and Post-bac research assistants

Maggie Ross – Post-bac

Riley Butler – Undergrad

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