Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Picky Plants: Do They "Choose" The Best Fungal Partner?

Date:
August 9, 2001
Source:
University Of Michigan
Summary:
Every time we make a choice, whether between job offers in two different cities or about what to have for dinner, evaluating the costs and benefits of each option is part of the process. Researchers are finding that the ability to actively select one option over another may no longer be reserved for higher animals; in fact, plants may make choices too.

Every time we make a choice, whether between job offers in two different cities or about what to have for dinner, evaluating the costs and benefits of each option is part of the process. Researchers at the University of Michigan are finding that the ability to actively select one option over another may no longer be reserved for higher animals; in fact, plants may make choices too.

Many plants form partnerships with fungi that live in the soil. Attached to the plant's roots, the fungus provides the plant with nutrients needed for growth---usually phosphorus—and the plant provides the fungus with something it needs, usually carbon. Many plants show increased growth when they team up with a fungus, but all fungi are not created equal. Depending on the environment, one fungus may cost the plant more or less carbon in exchange for the nutrients the fungus makes available to the plant.

And according to a paper to be presented at the annual meeting of the Ecological Society of America on Aug. 8 by U-M doctoral student Miroslav Kummel, "plants may be actively 'choosing' the species of fungus that supports the highest growth for the plant."

Depending on environmental factors such as soil type or amount of light, fungi differ in their effects on plant growth, and a plant living in the shade may be better off with a different fungus than a plant living in the sun. "Of course this is the result of long-term selection," says Deborah Goldberg, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology and one of Kummel's faculty advisers, "but the consequences are the same as if it were a cognitive choice, and that's pretty cool."

Kummel looked at the distribution pattern of different types of fungi growing on balsam fir seedlings in an area with light conditions ranging from full sun to full shade. He found that a fir seedling living in the shade associates with a different fungus than a fir seedling living in the sun, and that it teams up with the fungus that "costs" the least, while still benefiting the plant.

The mechanism by which the plant "chooses" the fungus is not yet known. It could result from the plant selectively aborting roots that associate with the more "expensive" fungus or from selective growth of new root tips. By isolating pure cultures of different fungi to more closely examine the exchange of nutrients between plant and fungus, Kummel hopes to unravel this mechanism. These experiments are in progress. Ultimately, Kummel's work could have implications for the timber industry, as many of our pulp crops and commercial hardwoods also form associations with fungi.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of Michigan. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of Michigan. "Picky Plants: Do They "Choose" The Best Fungal Partner?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 August 2001. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/08/010809070521.htm>.
University Of Michigan. (2001, August 9). Picky Plants: Do They "Choose" The Best Fungal Partner?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/08/010809070521.htm
University Of Michigan. "Picky Plants: Do They "Choose" The Best Fungal Partner?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/08/010809070521.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

AP (July 30, 2014) Thousands of people are trekking to a Bavarian farmer's field to check out a mysterious set of crop circles. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

AFP (July 30, 2014) Pan-African airline ASKY has suspended all flights to and from the capitals of Liberia and Sierra Leone amid the worsening Ebola health crisis, which has so far caused 672 deaths in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Duration: 00:43 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

AP (July 30, 2014) At least 20 New Jersey residents have tested positive for chikungunya, a mosquito-borne virus that has spread through the Caribbean. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Xtreme Eating: Your Daily Caloric Intake All On One Plate

Xtreme Eating: Your Daily Caloric Intake All On One Plate

Newsy (July 30, 2014) The Center for Science in the Public Interest released its 2014 list of single meals with whopping calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile: iPhone Android Web
      Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins