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Ancient Associations: Mycorrhizas in changing forests
Tuesday, 7th November 2023, 19:00 - 20:00Free
Join in-person or online. Fungi and in particular mycorrhizal fungi underpin terrestrial ecosystems. Mycorrhizal fungi live in ancient symbiosis with the roots of 90% of the plants we know. In this intimate below ground relationship, the fungi exchange soil water and nutrients through carbon (sugars) and fats from the plants.
Mycorrhizal fungi use the plant carbon to explore the soil and to form, only when the conditions are favourable, mushrooms, truffles or crusts- the spore bearing structures of fungi we are used to see above ground. Mycorrhizal fungi are therefore directly involved in plant nutrition and growth but also, they are a main entry point of carbon into the soil, where it can remain over long periods of time, helping mitigating climate change.
However, these fungi are impacted by changes in the environment, that can affect the important functions that they develop for plants, their habitats and ultimately for humans. Whether they can recover from these impacts remains unknown.
In this talk, I will give you an insight into the main types of mycorrhizal fungi and their importance and dominance in different ecosystems with a focus on forests and their threats.
About Laura M. Suz
Laura is a Senior Research Leader in Mycology in the Ecosystem Stewardship Department at Kew. She has a strong interest in fungal ecology, particularly in mycorrhizal symbiosis with a focus on ectomycorrhizal fungi in forests. Laura’s research interests include: 1) the drivers of change of ectomycorrhizal fungi in forests and the consequences of changes in these fungi for forest functioning and resilience, 2) the role of mycorrhizal fungi in soil carbon sequestration and, 3) mycorrhizal fungi as indicators of soil health for ecosystem assessment.
The cryptic, below-ground growth of these fungi has been an obstacle to our understanding of them despite their pivotal role in terrestrial ecosystems. In general, Laura’s research involves the application of molecular methods, which largely overcomes this obstacle, to address fundamental biological and ecological questions.
You can read more about Laura’s research here: