BHUBANESWAR: A team of plant scientists which mapped Khandadhar hill forests in Keonjhar has claimed to have spotted 29 new species of bryophytes in the region. These bryophytes, land plants without any flower or seed which reproduce by way of spores, have been reported for the first time in Orissa.
The research team came across the bryophytes in the undisturbed zone of the Khandadhar hills. The famous hills are spread across Sundargarh and Keonjhar.
While mining activity has begun in Sundagarh side, the region under Bansapal block of Keonjhar continues to remain untouched.
This region is where the 29 bryophytes have been reported.
"The finding has also been endorsed by bryoplogist Dr Dinesh Saxena of the Bareily College," said a member of the research team led by plant biologist PK Dash.
A team comprising plant biologists and researchers from Vasundhara surveyed the hills recently and felt that absence of human interference seems to be a factor the new species have been reported.
Preservation of the bryophytes habitat is necessary since these species are considered very good bio-indicators.
The bryophytes grow on the soil, rocks, tree trunks, branches, leaves, buildings, old monuments and in wetlands. The metals emitted from solid fuel combustion, vehicular emission and industrial processes are monitored from bryophytes basing on their unique and specific responses.
Some of the bryophyte species are extremely sensitive to the pollutants and exhibit visible injury symptoms even in the presence of very minute quantities of pollutants. Others have a capacity to absorb as well as retain pollutants in concentrations much higher than those absorbed and retained by the higher plants growing in the same habitat. The ability to accumulate metals work in their favour as bio-monitoring agents.
Since they lack a transportation mechanism, minerals absorbed by bryophytes are preserved within the cell without loss during storage. This potential is used to determine changes in atmospheric quality by analysis of bryophytes.
Besides, monitoring of heavy metals through bryophytes is cost-effective as well as efficient to assess the qualitative and quantitative differences in metal concentrations at distinct locations.
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