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 September 30, 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 September 30, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

California University Designs Sustainable Winery

California University Designs Sustainable Winery

Reuters - US Online Video (Sep. 27, 2014) Amid California's worst drought in decades, scientists at UC Davis design a sustainable winery that includes a water recycling system. Vanessa Johnston reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Argentina Worries Over Decline of Soybean Prices

Argentina Worries Over Decline of Soybean Prices

AFP (Sep. 27, 2014) The drop in price of soy on the international market is a cause for concern in Argentina, as soybean exports are a major source of income for Latin America's third largest economy. Duration: 01:10 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Mama Bear, Cubs Hang out in California Backyard

Mama Bear, Cubs Hang out in California Backyard

Reuters - US Online Video (Sep. 27, 2014) A mama bear and her two cubs climb trees, wrestle and take naps in the backyard of a Monrovia, California home. Vanessa Johnston reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Crazy' Climate Forces Colombian Farmers to Adapt

'Crazy' Climate Forces Colombian Farmers to Adapt

AFP (Sep. 26, 2014) Once upon a time, farming was a blissfully low-tech business on Colombia's northern plains. Duration: 02:05 Video provided by AFP
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

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