Fungal decisions can affect climate

by American Society of Agronomy, January 31, 2020 in WUWT

But fungi don’t just release carbon. They can also store it. For example, environmental stress can cause fungi to strengthen their cell walls. They do so by using organic compounds that contain carbon. These carbon compounds can stay in soils for years to decades or even longer.

“We found that where drought stress increased, the amount of fungi that invested more in strengthening cell walls and less in decomposition tended to increase,” says Treseder. In contrast, in more moderate conditions, the reverse occurred. Fungi that decomposed more efficiently became more common.

These findings suggest that fungi might store more carbon as global climate becomes more extreme. On the other hand, they might release more carbon dioxide in moderate climates. “These opposing feedbacks would not have been apparent without examining trade-offs among fungal traits,” says Treseder.