Plants’ Fungi Allies May Not Help Store Climate Change’s Extra Carbon

Plants’ Fungi Allies May Not Help Store Climate Change’s Extra Carbon

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Fungi found in plants may not be the answer to mitigating climate change by storing additional carbon in soils as some previously thought, according to an international team of plant biologists. The researchers found that increased carbon dioxide stimulates the growth of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) — a type of fungus that is often found in the roots of most land plants — which then leads to higher decomposition rates of organic materials, said Lei Cheng, post doctorate fellow in plant science, Penn State. This decomposition releases more carbon dioxide back into the air, which means that terrestrial ecosystems may have limited capacity to halt climate change by cleaning up excessive greenhouse gases, according to the researchers.

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