1992, 30 (2): 183–192
In the last two decades, all the branch fields of bryology, with classical taxonomy
gradually developing into multidisciplinecourses, have witnessed a great progress.
The author is attempting to give a brief view of bryology in the following five
The first part introduces the fundamental characteristics of bryology in the recent decades. Publication of “New Manual of Bryology” Vol. I and II, edited by Schuster(1983-1984) , marked a new epoch of bryology. A series of books, “The Biology of Mosses”
(Richardson, 1981), the “New Advances in Bryology “and the other bryological publications
showed that bryologists were working not only on bryofloras in different regions of the
world, but also deeply engaged in the micro-view fields of bryology. Evidently, the world
bryological researches have entered a prosperous period.
The second part gives some recent examples of investigations on taxonomy,
morphology, cytology, paleobotany, ecology, reproductive biology and ecological physiology
In discussing the tendency of the future research, the author emphasizes that systematic
and evolutionary botany of bryophytes is one of the main subjects .Following the increase of
taxa, the development of chemotaxonomy, cytology, numerical taxonomy etc.will reveal the
relationships between orders, families or infrafamiliar groups. However, the main problem in
this respect is lacking of key fossil records of bryophytes. On the other hand, the monographs
increase steadily, and they are helpful in correcting some previously reported disjunct distribution of species and distribution of regional new species. Plant geography of bryophytes can
also be used for explaining the continental drift (Schuster 1969, 1972).Moss indicators, which
are more sensitive than vascular plants, have been noticed. The traditional utilization of
mosses will be continuous.
Chinese bryology has been greatly improved in the past half a century, and about a hundred papers involving taxonomy, phytogeography, phytocoenology, morphology, cytology,
numerical taxonomy and applied bryology, were published in last two decades. In China, the
foundation of taxonomy of bryophytes is developing, although we already have several
bryological research centers. It seems to me that too many new taxa have been described,
while no sufficient attention has been paid on studies on relationships and evolution of
bryophytes. Due to identification of bryophytes, hryofloras between some neighbouring regions are not comparable. Fossils of bryophytes are usually treated as the “unknown kind of
plants”, so we lack the geological evidence of bryophytes. We are facing the problem in training a new generation of bryologists due to the limited funds.
Finally, some suggestions are made for Chinese bryology. The ways for seeking the origin
of bryophytes will be: l.Searching for primitive groups of bryophytes.2.Comprehensive studies on key genera and species.3.Expeditions to the unknown native localities of special groups
of bryophytes. Further studies on the bryoflora and phytogeography are necessary in
China. Studies on the distribution centers of genera endemic to China and East Asiatic endemic genera in China will provide some pieces of evidence on the origin oe the Chinese
bryoflora. New records of macrofossils and microfossils of bryophytes will help to break the
“neck of bottle “ of the above-mentioned problems. Experimental projects are almost
unknown in China. lt is very important, therefore, to encourage people to work on them for
original data on phylogeny and origin of bryophytes, although it will be a long-term task inChina.