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Secrets of cooperation between trees and fungi revealed
Date:3/5/2008

Gent, Belgium Trees and fungi have constructed a close relationship with the passing of the ages. Fungi like to grow between the roots of trees and the arrangement is beneficial to both partners. Their delicate balance is now being revealed for the very first time. VIB researchers at Ghent University in colaboration with an international team have succeeded in unravelling the genetic code of the Laccaria bicolor fungus. This new information is crucial to our knowledge. It will lead to a better understanding of how fungi help trees to grow and how together they can be indicators of climate change.

Trees and fungi live happily together

Trees are the lungs of the earth. They draw CO2 from the atmosphere and convert it into sugars, which then become a source of energy. In the process they breathe O2 back into the atmosphere. This green production of biomass trees account for 90% of the planets land-based biomass is a major influence on the health of our planet.

Trees grow better and faster when certain specialized micro-organisms occur in their root systems. One such organism is the Laccaria bicolor fungus. The symbiotic relationship of the fungus and the tree root systems is advantageous to both. The fungus facilitates the uptake of scarce nutrients such as phosphates and nitrogen and protects the roots against parasites in the soil. In return they are able to draw on the sugars in the roots. 85% of all plants and trees are dependent on symbiotic processes of this kind for their growth.

Genetic code of symbiotic fungus yields up first secrets

An international collaborative project was set up to characterize the genome of the soil fungus Laccaria bicolor . VIB scientists Pierre Rouz and Yves Van de Peer, working with Frances renowned INRA and JGI of the US, have sequenced the DNA of the fungus. They have been able to identify 20,000 genes in the fungal genome. Their analys
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Contact: Joke Comijn
info@vib.be
329-244-6611
VIB (the Flanders Institute for Biotechnology)
Source:Eurekalert

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