The concept for a book providing an introduction to the biology of bryophytes emanates from our passion for these land plants and the lack of recent manuals offering general insights into their fascinating diversity and evolutionary history. Throughout its history, bryological research has contributed significantly to the field of plant sciences, starting with the discovery of sex chromosomes in plants and culminating most recently with the assembly of the Physcomitrella genome, fundamental for the study of the evolution of genes and their function during the diversification of land plants. Bryophytes are, in fact, pivotal in land plant evolution, and the recent advances in molecular phylogenetics and genomics have allowed for a clearer picture of land colonization and subsequent evolution to emerge. Ecologically, the significance of bryophytes for the regulation of global biogeochemical cycles, especially carbon, has long been acknowledged and has gained much attention in the present context of global changes. Finally, there has been an increasing concern for the conservation biology of cryptogams, and bryophytes in particular.
The aim of the present book is to offer a stepping-stone to anyone interested in discovering the fundamentals of the biology of bryophytes, making the bridge with more comprehensive treaties such as Goffinet and Shaw's Bryophyte Biology (2009) and Glime's Bryophyte Ecology (2007a). In Introduction to Bryophytes, we make an attempt at summarizing and explaining the recent advances made across the various aspects of bryophyte biology at a level that would be palatable to beginners.