Posts

Soil Fungi Act like a Support Network for Trees, Study Shows

Being highly connected to a strong social network has its benefits. Now a new University of Alberta study is showing the same goes for trees, thanks to their underground neighbours.

The study, published in the Journal of Ecology, is the first to show that the growth of adult trees is linked to their participation in fungal networks living in the forest soil.

Though past research has focused on seedlings, these findings give new insight into the value of fungal networks to older trees–which are more environmentally beneficial for functions like capturing carbon and stabilizing soil erosion.

“Large trees make up the bulk of the forest, so they drive what the forest is doing,” said researcher Joseph Birch, who led the study for his PhD thesis in the Faculty of Agricultural, Life & Environmental Sciences.

When they colonize the roots of a tree, fungal networks act as a sort of highway, allowing water, nutrients and even the compounds that send defence signals against insect attacks to flow back and forth among the trees.

KEEP READING ON EUREKA ALERT

 

Fungi Have Unexpected Role to Play in Fight Against Climate Change

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Planting more trees seems like a logical way of counteracting climate change, as forests facilitate carbon sequestration, the process of capturing and storing atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2), but as efforts to remove CO2 from the atmosphere intensify, organisms from another kingdom — fungi — are showing they have an indispensable role to play in this process.

“Almost all plant life coexists with fungi during a certain period, if not the entire life cycle of a plant, but the reasons for this coexistence and its effects have not yet been fully deciphered,” said Ko-Hsuan “Koko” Chen, an assistant research fellow at Academia Sinica’s Biodiversity Research Center. Her lab studies plant-fungal symbiosis, especially between fungi and early photosynthetic organisms such as mosses.

Funguses are commonly used as ingredients in food and in medicines. However, their dynamic relationship with plants is not so well known and is significantly tied to the prosperity of plant species and element cycles, which are defined as the biogeochemical pathways in which elements are transformed by natural processes.

KEEP READING ON TAIWAN NEWS