Why Some Mushrooms May Be Magic for Climate Change

February 17, 2014 at 11:13 am Leave a comment

Photo by Colin Averill

EEM fungi like this Amanita mushroom help soils store more carbon

The soil contains more carbon than all living plants and the atmosphere combined. Now a new study says that a certain type of fungi can help soil hold up to 70% more carbon—with potentially big impacts for the climate.

Researchers from the University of Texas, Boston University and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute ran computer models on data from more than 200 soil profiles from around the world. They found that soils dominated by ecto- and ericoid mycorrhizal (EEM) fungi contain as much as 70% more carbon than soils dominated by arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi. That’s because the EEM fungi produce more nitrogen-degrading enzymes, which allows them to extract more nitrogen from the soil. They essentially outcompete the soil microbes, which slows down their ability to decompose dead plant matter and return carbon from the soil to the atmosphere. “This analysis clearly establishes that the different types of symbiotic fungi that colonize plant roots exert major control on the global carbon cycle, which has not been fully appreciated or demonstrated until now,” said Colin Averill, a graduate student at the University of Texas and the lead author of the paper.

More from the Time Magazine article HERE>>

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Entry filed under: Carbon_Emissions, Climate.

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