New Research Indicates A Potential Problem For Trees Facing Climate Change.  While Many Plants And Animals Are Shifting Their Ranges Northward To Find Cooler Climes, Trees May Be Hindered By A Lack Of Mycorrhizal Fungi.

Mycorrhizal Mismatch https://www.researchgate.net/publication/338744774_Ectomycorrhizal_fungal_diversity_predicted_to_substantially_decline_due_to_climate_changes_in_North_American_Pinaceae_forests

These beneficial fungi normally form a symbiotic relationship with tree roots, creating an extensive underground network that provides vital nutrients and assists with gas exchange. However, research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests this partnership could be disrupted by climate change. Details on Mycorrhizal Mismatch below.

The Mycorrhizal Mismatch Research

The study, focusing on North American tree species with relevance to the UK, analysed 50 trees and 400 ectomycorrhizal fungi. It predicts that as temperatures rise, trees will likely migrate northwards. However, roughly 35% of tree-fungi partnerships may not be able to keep up. The fungi cant just move on the more mobile seed.

This “mismatch” could explain why some trees appear reluctant to move further north. Without their established fungal network, adapting to new environments becomes significantly more challenging.

 “Ectomycorrhizal fungi have a greater sensitivity to climate than trees themselves. We’re finding evidence that trees may be held back by these differences.

Dr. Clara Qin, Lead Researcher.

The study highlights the importance of considering these subterranean partnerships when developing assisted migration strategies for trees. Traditionally, such strategies focus on factors like available space at higher latitudes. However, this research suggests a more nuanced approach that incorporates the vital role of mycorrhizal fungi.

While the news presents a challenge, it also opens doors for innovative solutions. Understanding these symbiotic relationships can inform strategies to help trees and their fungal partners adapt and thrive in a changing climate.  It might be as easy as moving a few grams of soil each time we plant a tree far away from its current habitat. though it could be that the new locations doesn’t suit the fungi! Time will tell.

UK gardeners can play a crucial role in promoting healthy ecosystems by fostering biodiversity and promoting practices that benefit both trees and the unseen fungal networks that sustain them.

Tag: Mycorrhizal Mismatch

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