The inception of the Sphagnum (peat moss) genome project marks the first plant-based sequencing project aimed specifically at carbon cycling genomics in a plant system relevant to ecological and evolutionary genomics. Sphagnum provides considerable intra-and interspecific variation at the nucleotide level, and in physiology, morphology, net production, decomposition and carbon accumulation (peat formation). Because of the large number of peat moss species, their diversity in mating systems, and clear patterns of niche differentiation, Sphagnum provides an exceptionally valuable complement to Physcomitrella patens and Ceratodon purpureus as moss models for genomic research. Here we review the organismal biology of Sphagnum including phylogeny, life cycle, mating systems, ecology and niche differentiation. We include the current state of Sphagnum genomic resources, in vitro methods and germplasm. A use-case is provided to address questions concerning epigenetics and reproduction.