Lead Chief Investigator: Tim Brodribb, University of Tasmania

Collaborating Chief Investigator: John Bowman


Bryophytes—mosses, hornworts and liverworts—are an immensely important clade for understanding the functional strategies and genetic pathways that have enabled plants to colonise the land.  

Our aim is to broadly characterise different modes of land plant survival in bryophytes by exploring their adaptive pathway at different scales. 

We will focus on important adaptive cases that will allow us to elaborate the evolutionary process from genetic network to whole plant fitness. 

Specifically, we aim to:  

  • connect key water-relations traits with plant fitness and survival in early land plant relatives 
  • link specific water-relations phenotypes to genetic architecture and whole-plant function 
  • provide the data required to model the connection between gene networks and whole-plant function. 

Our approach

We will examine adaptation to atmospheric and soil dryness in members of a lineage that differ in their water deficit strategies—for example, Riccia, Marchantia and Hymenophyton in liverworts; and Physcomitrella and Polytrichum in mosses. 

We will look to transcriptomics for insights into correlated gene expression changes, to provide data for modelling and to facilitate formulation of hypotheses of responsible genetic networks for broader land plant comparisons.  

We will explore genetic manipulation of select species (beyond Marchantia) to functionally test our hypotheses.