Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Bugs Expose Underground Carbon Traffic System 10 Times More Important Than Fossil Fuel Burning

Date:
October 8, 2005
Source:
University of Warwick
Summary:
The flow of carbon through soil is ten times greater than the amount of carbon moved around by the burning of fossil fuel but until now how this happens was at best poorly understood. Soil was almost literally a black box to scientists interested in carbon. Now researchers at the University of Warwick have been able to shed light in that black box by getting a particular class of insects to expose the key underground carbon traffic system - by eating it.

TheUniversity of Warwick team worked with researchers from Aberdeen,Lancaster and Sheffield, to try and establish if plant associated fungi- arbulscar mycorrhizal (AM) fungi - found on the roots of 80% of allland plants had any role in the movement of atmospheric carbon to soil(fixed by plants in the form of CO2). AM fungi produce filaments thatspread widely throughout the soil (sometimes referred to as themycorrhizosphere) and they are known to be important for effectiveuptake by plants of water and phosphates but they were not known toplay any role in the movement of carbon through the soil.

Theresearchers developed novel soil cores that were engineered withopenings covered by nylon mesh with tiny pores just big enough to allowAM mycelia to grow into them but too small for any insects or othermicro-fauna (including Collembola, soil mites) to get into the cores.The cores were then filled with soil which was frozen -80oC to kill anyother insects/microfauna and inserted into experimental grassland toenable colonization by AM fungi from the surrounding plants. Twentymites from the order Collembola, which would view the AM mycelia asfood stuff, were introduced to half of the cores. After another fourweeks the grassland was exposed to a particular form of carbon dioxide(a stable isotope of carbon, 13C) for 7 hours, a technique called pulselabelling. Concentration of 13C in cores was then analysed. The soilcores which were exposed to the mites were found to have 32% less 13Cthan the control cores. This showed that Collembola's consumption ofthe arbulscar mycorrhizal mycelia had disrupted a key pathwaytransporting carbon from plants to soil.

As a final check theresearchers examined both the cores with and without Collembola for aparticular phospholipid fatty acid (PLFA) that is characteristic for AMmycelia. They found that this particular PLFA contained significantamounts of 13C in cores not exposed to Collembola. However those soilcores that were exposed to collembola which fed on the mycorrhizalmycelia did not have 13C enriched PFLAs..

This researchestablishes that arbuscular mycorrhizal mycelia provide a major highwayin terms of transporting carbon from plants to soil. This newunderstanding of how both mycorrhizal mycelia and the insect populationof soil impact on the transport of carbon will assist researcherstrying to understand what preserves a healthy soil and providesrecycled carbon for supporting below ground biodiversity. It will alsoopen up a new understanding of the food-webs and nutrient flow in soilwhich is fundamental to sustainable agriculture.

Note foreditors: The research paper Soil Invertebrates Disrupt Carbon FlowThrough Fungal Neworks is in Science vol 309, 2005, p. 1047


Story Source:

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


Cite This Page:

University of Warwick. "Bugs Expose Underground Carbon Traffic System 10 Times More Important Than Fossil Fuel Burning." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 October 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/10/051008094447.htm>.
University of Warwick. (2005, October 8). Bugs Expose Underground Carbon Traffic System 10 Times More Important Than Fossil Fuel Burning. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/10/051008094447.htm
University of Warwick. "Bugs Expose Underground Carbon Traffic System 10 Times More Important Than Fossil Fuel Burning." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/10/051008094447.htm (accessed October 1, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Attacking Superbugs

Attacking Superbugs

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) — Two weapons hospitals can use to attack superbugs. Scientists in Ireland created a new gel resistant to superbugs, and a robot that can disinfect a room in minutes. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cultural Learning In Wild Chimps Observed For The First Time

Cultural Learning In Wild Chimps Observed For The First Time

Newsy (Oct. 1, 2014) — Cultural transmission — the passing of knowledge from one animal to another — has been caught on camera with chimps teaching other chimps. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Earth Has Lost Half Its Vertebrate Wildlife Since 1970: WWF

Earth Has Lost Half Its Vertebrate Wildlife Since 1970: WWF

Newsy (Sep. 30, 2014) — A new study published by the World Wide Fund for Nature found that more than half of the world's wildlife population has declined since 1970. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Annual Dog Surfing Competition Draws California Crowds

Annual Dog Surfing Competition Draws California Crowds

AFP (Sep. 30, 2014) — The best canine surfers gathered for Huntington Beach's annual dog surfing competition, "Surf City, Surf Dog." Duration: 01:15 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