Archive by Category "Featured" (Page 6)


leshyk illustration rhizosphere

A future is depicted in which rhizobacteria sourced from stressful areas around the world may be used as a metaphorical “prescription for drought.” (Illustration by Victor Leshyk 2016) ECOSS researchers recently published findings in the scientific journal Plant and Soil showing that rhizosphere bacteria could help reduce crop losses due to drought. See the full article Listen to an interview by Knau with Rachel Rubin Watch an interview with Rachel Rubin for Arizona PBS

American Journal of Botany Ready to climb a California coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens), to sample branches for fungi. In this issue, Harrison et al. delved into a largely unexplored reservoir of fungal diversity—the forest canopy—using a high-throughput sequence-based approach to characterize the composition of the fungal community at different heights within the crowns of redwood trees at sites spanning the geographical range of the world’s tallest species. They found pervasive shifts in community composition with height of the trees and distinct assemblages of fungi on individual trees, which warrant further research to understand the ecological role and consequences of such vertically stratified fungal communities in tree species. See pp. 2087–2095, Harrison et al.—Vertical stratification of the foliar fungal community in the world’s tallest trees.Image credit: George Koch, taken at Landel’s Hill-Big Creek Reserve, California. Read the full article here
cover for oecologia

Oecologia Giant Sequoia trees can be thousands of years old, are the most massive organisms on Earth, and reach astounding heights. But they can't just keep on getting taller indefinitely, it seems. There are limits. Figuring out these limits and how they shape these giant forests is a main focus of Professor George Koch's research, featured on the cover of this month's issue of the prestigious journal, Oecologia. At the tops of the trees, the leaves have just as much nitrogen as leaves lower in the canopy, they have the capacity to photosynthesize at high rates, and they are equally efficient with water. So, what's missing? It turns out that lifting water against gravity is hard, and it gets harder and harder the higher you go. So at the tops of the giant redwood trees, the leaves are water stressed, and tree height approaches the physical limits...
Microscopic visual illustration of Ectomycorrhizal fungi on the roots of a tree.

Ectomycorrhizal fungi (the mushrooms connected to the roots of the tree) increase the uptake of nitrogen by the plant, even when that nutrient is scarce in soils. Artwork by Victor O. Leshyk. Plants can grow faster as atmospheric CO2 concentrations increase, but only if they have enough nitrogen or partner with fungi that help them get it, according to new research published this week in Science. The study was lead by César Terrer Moreno, a PhD student at Imperial College London, and included researchers from Northern Arizona University, the University of Antwerp (Belgium), Indiana University, and New South Wales University (Australia). The team synthesized more than 80 past experiments, and they found that higher CO2 boosted plant growth, as long as the plants received enough nitrogen. Without added nitrogen, CO2 had no effect, confirming the long-standing idea that nitrogen limits...
Illustration of permafrost releasing carbon dioxide

In thawing Arctic permafrost soils, carbon dioxide is produced by microbes in dry conditions, while both methane and carbon dioxide are produced by microbes in wet conditions. Artwork by Victor Leshyk. When it comes to climate change, not all carbon is created equal. Among greenhouse gases, methane is 34 times more potent than carbon dioxide. In this recent study published in Nature Climate Change, Northern Arizona University assistant research professor and lead author of the study, Christina Schädel, analyzed carbon release from 25 Arctic soil incubation studies to learn more about the conditions promoting either carbon dioxide or methane release. Read more about the findings of the study here  
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