Forest trees trade large quantities of carbon via fungi

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Lucas
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Forest trees trade large quantities of carbon via fungi

Post by Lucas » Fri Apr 15, 2016 10:29 am

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2 ... 144711.htm

Forest trees use carbon not only for themselves; they also trade large quantities of it with their neighbours. Botanists from the University of Basel report this in the journal Science. The extensive carbon trade among trees -- even among different species -- is conducted via symbiotic fungi in the soil.

It is well known that plants take up carbon dioxide from the air by photosynthesis. The resulting sugar is used to build cellulose, wood pulp (lignin), protein and lipid -- the building blocks of plants. While growing, the tree transports sugar from its leaves to the building sites: to the branches, stems, roots and to their symbiotic fungi below ground (mycorrhizal fungi).

Carbon dioxide shower for trees

Dr. Tamir Klein and Prof. Christian Körner of the University of Basel together with Dr. Rolf Siegwolf of the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) now report, that this sugar export goes further than previously thought. In a forest near Basel the researchers used a construction crane and a network of fine tubes to flood the crowns of 120 year old and 40 meter tall spruce trees with carbon dioxide that carried a label. The researchers used carbon dioxide that, compared to normal air, contains less of the rare and heavier 13C atom.

While this modification made no difference for the trees, it allowed the botanists to track the carbon through the entire tree using an atomic mass spectrometer. This way they were able to trace the path of the carbon taken up by photosynthesis from the crowns down to the root tips. The researchers found the labelled carbon not only in the roots of the marked spruce trees. The roots of the neighbouring trees also showed the same marker, even though they had not received labelled carbon dioxide. This included trees from other species.

"Forest is more than the sum of its trees"

The only way the carbon could have been exchanged from spruce to beech, pine or larch tree -- or vice versa -- is by the network of tiny fungal filaments of the shared mycorrhizal fungi. Understory plants which partner up with other types of fungi remained entirely unmarked. The research group called the discovered exchange of large quantities of carbon among completely unrelated tree species in a natural forest "a big surprise."

According to the researchers, the discovery questions the concept of tree individuality with regard to the single largest constituent of the biosphere, tree carbon. Furthermore, the results of the study funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation add a new dimension to the role of mycorrhizal fungi in forests. "Evidently the forest is more than the sum of its trees," comments Prof. Christian Körner the findings.
We travel the Milky way together, trees and men. - John Muir

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dbhguru
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Re: Forest trees trade large quantities of carbon via fungi

Post by dbhguru » Fri Apr 15, 2016 10:54 am

Lucas,

Thanks for sharing this exciting research finding. Uptake of CO2 and its subsequent distribution to surrounding plants through the underground network of fungi comes as no major surprise to me. The question is how does this underground city of fungi behave when the ground is plowed, compacted, etc., and when the above ground network of trees is removed. How long does it take to rebuild the underground network? I think there are forestry projects that inject mycorrhizal fungi into the soil to re-establish the underground plumbing needed for better tree growth. However, I doubt this is a wide spread practice.

Bob
Robert T. Leverett
Co-founder, Native Native Tree Society
Co-founder and President
Friends of Mohawk Trail State Forest
Co-founder, National Cadre

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Lucas
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Re: Forest trees trade large quantities of carbon via fungi

Post by Lucas » Fri Apr 15, 2016 12:48 pm

Yes and it is complicated. Likely the most complicated ecosystem on earth. L


Plants force fungal partners to behave fairly

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2 ... 114147.htm



Do plants operate according to economic criteria? They do, when they are mutualized with fungal partners that demonstrate differing degrees of cooperation. "Carbs for phosphates," that's the deal between plants and mycorrhizal fungi, which can only feed themselves together with a partner: The plant supplies the fungus with carbohydrates and is 'paid back' in phosphates. Additional phosphates are extremely attractive for the plant, as they allow it to grow better.



Good partners force worse partners to improve their performance



It really gets interesting when plants are mutualized with fungal partners of varying degrees of cooperativeness: a 'meaner' one, which supplies fewer phosphates per unit of carbohydrate provided, and a 'more generous' one, which 'pays' more phosphates for its nutrients. "In a case like this, the plant can deliberately decide to provide the meaner partner with fewer carbohydrates." That's how ecologists Pascal Niklaus and Bernhard Schmid from the University of Zurich sum up the results of their new study. As if that were not enough, the plant can practically 'starve' the less cooperative fungal partner by supplying it with fewer nutrients, thus forcing it to supply more of the sought-after phosphates. In this way the partner is encouraged to give back around the same amount as the more generous fungus. Andres Wiemken from the University of Basel explains this phenomenon as follows: "The plant exploits the competitive situation of the two fungi in a targeted manner, triggering what is essentially a market-based process determined by cost and performance."



Based on this completely new insight into the behavior and decision-making ability of plants, the researchers believe that plants would be suitable for testing general market-based theories. "Because plants make their decisions based on physiological processes and are not distracted from the best course of action by subjective thought, they could even be better models than animals and people," says Bernhard Schmid from the University of Zurich.



Better productivity thanks to mycorrhizal fungi



The basic research funded by Syngenta within the framework of the "Plant Decision Making" Project at the Zurich-Basel Plant Science Center also provides practical findings for the agriculture sector. "Mycorrhizal fungi increase the sustainability and productivity of agricultural eco-systems," explains Bernhard Schmid. For this reason, it is essential to maintain as much diversity within mycorrhizal fungi as possible in the agriculture sector going forward.



Age-old mutualism of plants and mycorrhizal fungi



Mycorrhizal fungi can survive only in the presence of a plant partner, as they are not able to feed themselves. The fungus uses its hyphae to penetrate the plant's root system, where the plant supplies it with carbohydrates. The plant also benefits from this arrangement, as the fungus provides the plant with phosphates and other nutrients -- with varying degrees of generosity. These natural fertilizers are decisive for plant growth, so mutualism with the mychorrhizal fungus is beneficial even if the fungus does not always cooperate fully.



Plant and mychorrhizal fungus mutualism has existed globally for more than 400 million years. Plant-fungus systems like these will play a significant role in more sustainable agriculture in the future.
We travel the Milky way together, trees and men. - John Muir

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Don
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Re: Forest trees trade large quantities of carbon via fungi

Post by Don » Fri Apr 15, 2016 2:29 pm

Lucas-
I can see those who envision communications between plants, as being encouraged by such a relationship between the fungal and plant communities.
From my perspective, this synergy between the trees and the fungal community is part of what was viewed in the old-growth forest ecosystem studies as "resilience". Those forest ecosystem components such as the diversity of plant communities and their contribution to diverse nutritional offerings, the accumulating seedbanks that promote that plant community diversity, the accumulating coarse woody debris providing diverse structural components to the duff and debris, and last but not least the role in the fungal community plays in (the extended time-release of) all of this. This, the resilience that old-growth forests use to 'weather' the natural (and to some extent, unnatural) disturbances that cycle through these ecosystems over time.
Just saying...
Don Bertolette - President/Moderator, WNTS BBS
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MarkGraham
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Re: Forest trees trade large quantities of carbon via fungi

Post by MarkGraham » Fri Apr 15, 2016 9:00 pm

Very interesting reading, thank you. I had no idea trees could "pass" carbon to each other, using fungi as the means of active transport.

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Lucas
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Re: Forest trees trade large quantities of carbon via fungi

Post by Lucas » Fri Apr 15, 2016 9:25 pm

Lucas wrote: Yes and it is complicated. Likely the most complicated ecosystem on earth. L
http://www.therecord.com/news-story/648 ... -of-life-/


"Remarkably, the scientists didn't have to go to extreme places to find many of their new lineages. "Meadow soil is one of the most microbially complex environments on the planet," Hug said."

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2 ... 124716.htm

Wealth of unsuspected new microbes expands tree of life
Bacteria make up nearly two-thirds of all biodiversity on Earth, half of them uncultivable
We travel the Milky way together, trees and men. - John Muir

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Larry Tucei
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Re: Forest trees trade large quantities of carbon via fungi

Post by Larry Tucei » Tue Apr 19, 2016 3:58 pm

Lucas- Really interesting article! Thanks for sharing! Reminds me of Avatar!! Larry

wisconsitom
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Re: Forest trees trade large quantities of carbon via fungi

Post by wisconsitom » Wed Apr 20, 2016 10:28 am

Indeed, I saw where researchers were able to easily and quickly demonstrate this shunting of photosynthates to a suppressed young Douglas fir from a big momma tree, using radioactive tracers and a Geiger counter. It took literally minutes for the Geiger to indicate the passing of such materials to the little guy. Now that was interspecific. Since then-and this was only a year or two ago-it has now been demosnstrated, via the research indicated above and other such research, that this same effect goes on between differing species! Also of note is the way in which inoculating soils with certain strains of Bacillus subtilis can cause induced resistance to a range of pathogens in some tree types. There's just so much we don't know!

And for the record, this is for me the perfect example of the extreme differences between the relatively simple world of growing a commodity crop-say corn, where the parameters are well understood-X amount of N per acre-that sort of thing, or for another example, the respect peeps get for knowing what turf needs in say a golf course scenario.....to this infinitely more complex system that nature has rigged up. No comparison, and it is precisely the guys that do get respect that are involved in child's play.

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Don
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Re: Forest trees trade large quantities of carbon via fungi

Post by Don » Wed Apr 20, 2016 1:32 pm

Do you suppose the medium for these 'transactions' of photosynthates/carbon is simply water (goes towards explaining intra- and inter-species exchange), and that moisture stress from drought might impact such transactions and general well-being of the forested ecosystem?
Don Bertolette - President/Moderator, WNTS BBS
Restoration Forester (Retired)
Science Center
Grand Canyon National Park

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wisconsitom
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Re: Forest trees trade large quantities of carbon via fungi

Post by wisconsitom » Fri Apr 22, 2016 12:29 pm

Well, if you'll allow my non-expert commentary, it is the soil solution wherein all nutrient transfer takes place. So that does sound like water. But the more we learn, the more it starts to look like a two-way street, trees "calling out" to fungi via root exudates, various soil bacteria assisting in the process, priming the pump so to speak, and on and on. But nothing happens without moisture, so in that sense it plays a part.

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