Monday, July 20, 2009

A look beneath the surface

Marcus Bingham of the Forest Science Department, University of British Columbia, was telling me about the role of fungi in linking the roots of different kinds of plants under the surface of the soil, and actually transferring carbon from one kind of plant to another. He sent me this link, from which the photo below was taken: He says it's an "ectomycorrhizal (‘ecto’ is a particular classification of mycorrhiza) root system of a conifer seedling."

Mycorrhizae. ALBERTON, O., & KUYPER, T. (2009). Ectomycorrhizal fungi associated with seedlings respond differently to increased carbon and nitrogen availability: implications for ecosystem responses to global change. Global Change Biology, 15 (1), 166-175 DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2486.2008.01714.x

The site at the link also has interesting things to say about how excess carbon affects the relationship of plants to each other. For example, an excess proportionally of carbon turns into excess sugar in plants and reduces the percentage of nitrogen in their diet (nitrogen, which builds protein). So, the more carbon we put into the environment, the more we put the plants (and ourselves, as plant-eaters, as well as the plant-eaters we eat) into sugar shock and protein deficiency.

Time to stop driving and start walking!

Here's another link related to the problem of excess carbon in the atmosphere - it's a radio program and you can download it by right-clicking your mouse on the link and choosing save-as. Play it in your ipod while you're walking, eh?

WINGS #12-09 The Atmosphere Trust Time: 28:40. Protecting the atmosphere is a trust for future generations.

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