The next stop on the virtual Antarctic tour is the "Flower of Antarctica" - Colobanthus quitensis, or Antarctic pearlwort.
Colobanthus quitensis belongs to the family Caryophyllaceae, commonly called the carnation family. But its flower doesn't look like your usual carnation: it’s tiny (3-4 mm in diameter), yellow, and looks like moss.
Like Antarctic hairgrass, Colobanthus quitensis can survive in abnormal Antarctic conditions thanks to a unique mechanism that protects it against ultraviolet light and frost.
Ukrainian scientists at the Institute of Molecular Biology and Genetics (IMBG) Department of Cell Population Genetics have determined the proper conditions for the clonal reproduction of Colobanthus quitensis and continue to study the mechanisms that allow this plant to survive in extreme conditions.
Meanwhile, field research on the ice continent continues. Dr. Ivan Parnikoza of IMBG is studying the ecosystems of Antarctica and its unique flora as part of the team of scientists at the Ukrainian Akademik Vernadsky Research Base.
Photos by Viktoria Pyeshkova and Dr. Viktor Kunakh
Part 1: Deschampsia Antarctica