FunNature & AnimalSoils with more fungi can store more carbon

Soils with more fungi can store more carbon

Soils are estimated to contain up to three times more carbon than the atmosphere . And it is all due to the work of both bacteria and fungi, which decompose, enriching soils with carbon.

And some of these compounds will remain in them for centuries. Or, at least, for a few decades. Others, on the other hand, will tend to be rapidly consumed by microbes, and converted into carbon dioxide, they will depart into our atmosphere, threatening to further exacerbate anthropogenic global warming.

Especially since the researchers believe that an increase in temperatures could cause a real explosion in the demographics of these microbes . Hence the importance for experts to understand the different mechanisms of persistence of organic carbon in dreams.

A team from the University of Massachusetts, in the United States, studied the laboratory behavior of different model soil compositions subjected to an increase in temperature. While it is true that bacteria are the main drivers of soil production, the researchers show that soils with a high content of fungi release less CO2 than others .

What would be the secrets of this process? At the moment they have not been revealed. But the researchers speculate that fungi could produce a series of enzymes that bacteria cannot .

These compounds could provide bacteria with “building blocks” with which the bacteria could produce soil. And, finally, they end up producing carbon compounds, with a long shelf life. However, it would still be necessary to confirm everything in real conditions.

Almost all plants on our planet live in symbiosis with fungi, a phenomenon known as mycorrhizae . It is a type of relationship that is most often formed through the interconnection of the roots of plants and fungi, allowing an exchange that favors growth, including the survival of each one.

On the one hand, the plant contributes sugar and / or carbon to the fungus. And, in turn, the fungus provides it with nutrients, water or minerals.

And this symbiosis increases the potential of vegetation to remove CO2 from the atmosphere, storing it in the soil . What is known as mycorrhizal symbiosis can take many forms, although the three main ones are ericoid mycorrhizae, arbuscular mycorrhizae and ectomycorrhizae.

However, it wasn’t until a few years ago that experts discovered that ectomycorrhizal vegetation is by far the most efficient at storing carbon in the soil .

In this study, the team carried out a global survey, creating a series of maps that detailed the distribution of the different mycorrhizal vegetations in the world, which would allow the development of land use strategies as a way to combat the increase in atmospheric CO2. and, therefore, against global warming.

And the scientists showed that boreal forests (which we find especially in Russia and Canada) are almost 100% ectomycorrhizal , managing to capture around 350 gigatons of carbon worldwide. While non-mycorrhizal vegetations only store 29 gigatons of carbon.

Since carbon sequestration in sleep is a very long process, which can take several tens or hundreds of years, hence protecting natural areas and, particularly, boreal forests is a priority .

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