The solution to the global warming problem may be in mushrooms!

Scientists are looking for various ways to curb global warming. The latest study shows that one-third of fossil fuel emissions could be absorbed by mycorrhizal fungi.

Mycorrhizal fungi’s mycelial underground network helps store large amounts of carbon dioxide in the soil. In fact, this capacity is so high that scientists are looking for a way to harness the abilities of fungi to alleviate environmental problems caused by greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Mushrooms could be natural solution to global warming problem

Scientists say the secret to preventing global warming from turning into a bigger disaster than it is today may lie in the symbiotic relationship between mycorrhizal fungi and plants. Such fungi play the role of supporters, not parasites, of the plant they belong to. Mycorrhizal fungi take for themselves some of the sugars and carbon dioxide produced through photosynthesis in exchange for the nutrients necessary for plant growth.

This plant-fungus relationship has been known for some time, but new research published in Current Biology provides conclusive and powerful data for the potential role of mycorrhizal fungi in removing significant amounts of CO2 from the atmosphere.

Fungi transfer a third of emissions to soil

A research fellow on plant-soil-microbe interactions at the University of Cape Town, Dr. In the study led by Heidi Hawkins, it is estimated that plants take 13.12 gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) from the atmosphere each year and give it to mycorrhizal fungi in the soil. Such symbiotic fungi help to safely store 36 percent of annual fossil fuel emissions in the soil. Hawkins says the research provides new “awareness” of the potential role these fungi play in controlling rising CO2 levels.

Mycorrhizal fungi use carbon compounds from plants to expand and strengthen their underground mycelial networks. Still, researchers have to figure out how long fungi can retain carbon. “While mycorrhizal fungi certainly contain carbon and release it into the soil, we don’t currently know if the fungi are acting like retaining carbon or increasing carbon over time,” Hawkins said.

While more research is needed to examine the role of mycorrhizal fungi in the CO2 cycle, scientists are already suggesting some practical actions, such as protecting areas known to have high carbon dispersal in soils thanks to these “specific mycorrhizal associations.” This means we need to protect forests, just as we have for some time done in the most climate sensitive parts of the world.

Ece Nagihan

Hi, I'm Ece. I am a writer for Expat Guide Turkey and I strive to create the best content for you. To contact me, you can send an e-mail to Happy reading!

One Comment

  1. Hi! I’m Anil, very much interested in mushroom and it’s roles in stabilization of climate, keep me posted and if I can do anything, I’ll be obliged, thanks

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