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Stanford biologists help solve fungal mysteries
Date:4/17/2014

ttom fungi performed very similar functions across the continent.

Peay said that more work is needed to understand fungal dispersal mechanisms and whether that plays a role in restricting species to particular regions, but the current finding that each bioregion has its own unique fungal fingerprint indicates that fungi could prove to be powerful forensic markers.

Impact on the climate

One surprising discovery was related to fungi producing oxidoreductases, enzymes used to break down particularly old forms of carbon-based molecules. In the study, the activity of oxidoreductases was associated with the abundance of mycorhizzal fungi. The new results suggest that these fungi may be far busier in degrading old organic material than previously thought.

"If mycorrhizal fungi are responsible for breaking down these types of carbon, even to a small degree, it totally changes our concept of how carbon is cycled through ecosystems and released into the atmosphere," Talbot said. "This shows that we really need to think about the biology of the system. We hope to provide some simple parameters so folks building climate change models will be able to fold in this type of biology."


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Contact: Bjorn Carey, Stanford News Service
bccarey@stanford.edu
650-725-1944
Stanford University
Source:Eurekalert

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