Plants and fungi together could slow climate change

A new global assessment shows that human impacts have greatly reduced plant-fungus symbioses, which play a key role in sequestering carbon in soils. Restoring these ecosystems could be one strategy to slow climate change. Human-induced transformations of Earth’s ecosystems have strongly affected distribution patterns of plant-fungus symbioses known as mycorrhiza. These changes have greatly reduced … Read more

Scientists discover interaction between good and bad fungi that drives forest biodiversity

Scientists have long understood that forest biodiversity is driven in part by something called rare-species advantage – that is, an individual tree has a better chance of survival if there are only a few other trees of the same species around. As a result, when the number of trees of any given species rises, survival … Read more

Studies of fungi provide new knowledge of harmful mutations in cells

Long-lived mushrooms that grow in ‘fairy rings’ accumulate surprisingly few mutations over time. This finding indicates that their protection against harmful mutations is well developed. The results, to be published in the esteemed journal Current Biology, are interesting in terms of both medicine and evolutionary biology. In all living creatures, every cell contains DNA, which encodes … Read more

Fungi living in cattail roots could improve our picture of ancient ecoystems

Paleobotanist Az Klymiuk didn’t set out to upend science’s understanding of the fossil record of plant-fungal associations. She just wanted to figure out the environment that some fossil plants lived in. That question led her to look at modern cattail roots and the fungi that live inside of them. She found that fungi have a … Read more

Fossils: The first fungus among us?

Abundant fossil fungi dating to between 1,000 and 900 million years ago, preserved in shales from Arctic Canada, are described in a paper published this week in Nature. Previous research dated the first unambiguous fossil records of fungi to before 400 million years ago. However, these new findings push back the record into mid-Proterozoic era. Fungi … Read more

Stanford researchers map symbiotic relationships between trees and microbes worldwide

In and around the tangled roots of the forest floor, fungi and bacteria grow with trees, exchanging nutrients for carbon in a vast, global marketplace. A new effort to map the most abundant of these symbiotic relationships – involving more than 1.1 million forest sites and 28,000 tree species – has revealed factors that determine … Read more