In DepthEcology

Hidden web of fungi could shape the future of forests

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Science  28 Aug 2020:
Vol. 369, Issue 6507, pp. 1042-1043
DOI: 10.1126/science.369.6507.1042

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Summary

The future of the world's flora may depend as much, if not more, on what's below the ground as what's above. Beneath 90% of all plants lies an invisible support system—subterranean fungal partners that form a network of filaments connecting plants and bringing nutrients and water to their roots. In return, the plants provide a steady supply of carbon to the fungi. Now, researchers are learning that these hidden partners can shape how ecosystems respond to climate change. The right fungal partners can help plants survive warmer and drier conditions, but climate change can also disrupt these so-called mycorrhizal fungi, possibly speeding the demise of their host plants.

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