• Wes

Tiny fungi in soil deserve more credit for slowing global warming

Captured by A. Bahr

lake Uddjaure and lake Hornavan, near Arjeplog in N Sweden

When we think about carbon sinks, we automatically think of forests packed with big trees. But it turns out that fungi, not plant matter, is responsible for most carbon sequestration in northern forests.

A diverse group of scientists in Sweden has found that most of the carbon that is sequestered in northern boreal forests comes about due to fungi that live on and in tree roots, rather than via dead needles, moss and leaf matter. They took soil samples from 30 islands in two lakes in northern Sweden and learned that the trees were carrying much of the carbon they pulled in down to their roots (via sugars) where it was being sequestered by a type of fungi (mycorrhizal fungi) that eats the sugars and expels the residue into the soil.

The amount of carbon stored in northern forests and how, is important because such trees cover approximately 11 percent of the Earth's surface, which means they hold approximately 16 percent of all worldwide sequestered carbon. And of course that's important because as global warming occurs, more sequestered carbon is released due to faster decomposition rates of dead forest matter.

Captured by K. Clemmensen

Marasmius species are common litter decomposers

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