. Energy News .

Unexpected finding shows climate change complexities in soil
by Staff Writers
Raleigh, NC (SPX) Sep 05, 2012

File image.

In a surprising finding, North Carolina State University researchers have shown that certain underground organisms thought to promote chemical interactions that make the soil a carbon sink actually play a more complex, dual role when atmospheric carbon levels rise.

In a paper published in the Aug. 31 edition of Science, North Carolina State University researchers show that important and common soil microscopic organisms, arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF), play a role in sequestering carbon below ground, trapping it from escaping into the atmosphere as a greenhouse gas.

Yet at the same time, the study shows, elevated levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide also increase a number of underground decomposing interactions that cause carbon to be released back into the atmosphere as a greenhouse gas. This greenhouse gas release essentially offsets any carbon sink benefits, the researchers found.

AMF have a win-win relationship with plants. The fungi take carbon from plants and provide nitrogen and other useful soil nutrients that plants need in order to grow and develop. Present in the roots of about 80 percent of plants that grow on land, AMF help hold this carbon in the ground by putting the brakes on the decomposition of soil organic matter, which prevents the carbon in the decomposing material from escaping into the atmosphere as a greenhouse gas.

But in four independent experiments described in the paper, the researchers show that plants increase their demand for soil nitrogen in the form of ammonia when atmospheric carbon levels rise. Sensing this need, AMF spur other soil micro-organisms to help fill the plant's need for ammonia. To do so, soil micro-organisms decompose soil organic matter, which allows the carbon to escape into the atmosphere.

"We showed that the fungi previously thought to control carbon in the soil can increase carbon decomposition when atmospheric carbon dioxide levels are elevated," says Dr. Shuijin Hu, associate professor of plant pathology at NC State and the corresponding author of the paper. "But if we effectively manage the nitrogen transformation process in the soil, we have a chance to manage carbon sequestration in the soil."

The study was funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Drs. H. David Shew and Thomas Rufty co-authored the paper, as did Drs. Fitz Booker and Kent Burkey, who work at NC State and the USDA's Agriculture Research Service. The paper's first author is former NC State graduate student Lei Cheng; postdoctoral researchers Cong Tu and Lishi Zhou also co-authored the paper.

Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi Increase Organic Carbon Decomposition Under Elevated CO2. Authors: Lei Cheng, Cong Tu, Lishi Zhou, H. David Shew, Thomas W. Rufty, Shuijin Hu, North Carolina State University; Fitz Booker and Kent Burkey, U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Agriculture Research Service and North Carolina State University. Published: Online Aug. 30, 2012, in Science

Related Links
North Carolina State University
Farming Today - Suppliers and Technology

Get Our Free Newsletters Via Email
Buy Advertising Editorial Enquiries


. Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

No-Till Farming Helps Capture Snow and Soil Water
Pullman WA (SPX) Sep 05, 2012
A smooth blanket of snow in the winter can help boost dryland crop productivity in the summer, and no-till management is one way to ensure that blanket coverage, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) research. Agricultural Research Service (ARS) soil scientist David Huggins conducted studies to determine how standing crop residues affect snow accumulation and soil water levels ... read more

Suomi NPP Captures Smoke Plume Images from Russian and African Fires

Remote Sensing Satellite Sends First Earth Imagery

Proba-2's espresso-cup microcamera snaps Hurricane Isaac

$3.7 Billion Reasons Why GIS Technology is The Future

CTrack Launches Lone Worker Device To Boost Protection And Peace Of Mind

Spirent Redefines Leadership in Location Testing with Solution for Hybrid Location Technology

Robbers nabbed thanks to GPS phone in loot

Fourth Galileo satellite reaches French Guiana launch site

Controversy in Liberian forest logging

Amazonian deforestation may cut rainfall by a fifth

Liberia forests sold off in secret logging contracts: report

Natural Regeneration Building Urban Forests, Altering Species Composition

Waste cooking oil makes bioplastics cheaper

Japan toilet maker showcases 'poop-powered' motorbike

Biorefinery makes use of every bit of a soybean

Warning issued for modified algae

Constellation announces the completion of 16MW solar installation

Showing the way to improved water-splitting catalysts

Merkel says favours solving solar dispute via talks

Drexel-Penn Partnership to Develop More Efficient Dye-Sensitized Solar Panels

Analysis sets price of global wind farms

SeaRoc charter MPI Adventure for Narec's Offshore Anemometry Hub Installation

Japan starts up first offshore wind farm

Maximum Protection against Dust; Minimal Effort

Chinese coal mining a risk?

China's Chalco scraps bid for Mongolia coal miner

Death toll in China mine blast rises to 43

China coal mine blast claims 26 lives: state media

H.K. students protest over 'brainwashing' classes

China villager bombs local government office

China's Wen says property controls still needed: Xinhua

Exiled Tibetans urge world leaders to end 'crisis'

Memory Foam Mattress Review

Newsletters :: SpaceDaily Express :: SpaceWar Express :: TerraDaily Express :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News


The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2012 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement