A recent (July 2016) Science Research Report was highlighted in the Imperial College London News discussing the effects of mycorrhizal associations within elevated CO2 environments upon plant biomass. Climate change has increased CO2 levels and currently plants are utilizing the elevated CO2 decreasing the effects creating a “CO2 fertilization effect”, however when looking to future impacts upon plants by climate change two hypotheses are considered: 1) plant biomass will be enhanced by the “CO2 fertilization effect”, continuing to slightly decrease global impacts of climate change, 2) environmental nitrogen limitations will decrease the CO2 fertilization effect, reducing plant CO2 uptake. This study complied elevated carbon experiments from around the world to dissect these hypotheses in the light of mycorrhizal interactions and discovered a primary interaction between nitrogen level and mycorrhizal association in correlation with plant biomass. Overall, plants in elevated CO2 experiments with ectomycorrhizal fungi (ECM) had larger biomass increases with high or low nitrogen levels, than plants with arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) with low nitrogen treatments. Thus, the CO2 fertilization effect from climate change may only pertain to plants with ECM associations in nitrogen limited areas, and these results should be considered when modeling effects of climate change upon global vegetation.
Dunning H. 2016. Plants’ ability to slow climate change depends on their fungi. Imperial College London. Accessed October, 19, 2016. http://www3.imperial.ac.uk/newsandeventspggrp/imperialcollege/newssummary/news_30-6-2016-12-25-24