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Patka
& Petro

Artist

Anika Patka 

- 3rd Year Undergraduate Student

- Civil Engineering

- Georgia Tech

Scientist

Caitlin Petro

- Post-Doctoral Fellow

- Biology

- Georgia Tech

Sphagnum angustifolium and friends

Medium: Acrylic, Ink

Peat mosses (Sphagnum spp.) are keystone species in northern peatland ecosystems, or bogs. Forming a thick green carpet on the surface of the bog, these ecosystem engineers create a uniquely cold and acidic environment where carbon resists decay and instead builds up belowground as thick peat deposits that accumulate over millennia. This green carpet and the green colors in magnified images of peat mosses were what led to our choice of using bright green acrylic ink. Much like humans, Sphagnum mosses harbor a unique microbiome, or consortia of microbial partners, that support their health and productivity. These include diazotrophs, which fix nitrogen (N2) from the atmosphere into a form that can be readily taken up by the moss. Our piece illustrates the connectivity and interactions that shape the relationship between

Sphagnum mosses and their microbial partners, as well as the broader linkages that exist within healthy ecosystems. The themes that underpin these interactions, such as the passage of nutrients and the transformation of chemical compounds from one form to another, are mirrored within all forms of life from the microscopic to the global scale. The small repetitive bubbles throughout the piece emphasize the movement and passage of nutrients and energy between the cells. We wanted to emphasize natural and organic shapes within this piece to mimic those found in nature. The repeating shapes and motifs within the piece represent at once molecules, cells, organisms, and ecosystems.

SphagnumAngustifolium.jpg
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