Bacteria Living on Old-Growth Trees

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Bacteria Living on Old-Growth Trees

Post by edfrank » Thu Feb 24, 2011 9:53 am

Bacteria Living on Old-Growth Trees ... 125021.htm

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Moss covered ancient oak tree. Large, ancient trees may be very important in helping forests grow. (Credit: iStockphoto)
ScienceDaily (Feb. 23, 2011) — A new study by Dr. Zoë Lindo, a post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Biology at McGill University, and Jonathan Whiteley, a doctoral student in the same department, shows that large, ancient trees may be very important in helping forests grow... Lindo's findings suggest that it is the interactions between old trees, mosses and cyanobacteria, which contribute to nutrient dynamics in a way that may actually sustain the long-term productivity of these forests.

"What we're doing is putting large old trees into a context where they're an integral part of what a forest is," says Dr. Lindo. "These large old trees are doing something: they're providing habitat for something that provides habitat for something else that's fertilizing the forest. It's like a domino effect; it's indirect but without the first step, without the trees, none of it could happen."

There are three players in this story:

1) large, old trees;

2) mosses that grow along their branches; and

3) a group of bacteria called cyanobacteria associated with the mosses.

The cyanobacteria take nitrogen from the atmosphere and make it available to plants-a process called "nitrogen fixation" that very few organisms can do


Ed Frank
"I love science and it pains me to think that so many are terrified of the subject or feel that choosing science means you cannot also choose compassion, or the arts, or be awe by nature. Science is not meant to cure us of mystery, but to reinvent and revigorate it." by Robert M. Sapolsky

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Re: Bacteria Living on Old-Growth Trees

Post by mdvaden » Thu Feb 24, 2011 10:05 pm

This type of thing came to mind last month when Taylor and I were looking for pines in the Umpqua National Forest. The are we were in was loaded with Lobaria (3 way symbiosis) lichen. Not just on the tall trees. But also on vine maples, ninebark, Alder, bigleaf maple and other small trees and shrubs. But it was on the old trees too.

I was wondering just how much nitrogen those must be feeding into the soil in that area.
M. D. Vaden of Oregon =

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