The fungus feeds on organic matter accumulated by animals and plants, decomposing it into simpler substances. In this case, the carbon in it can be released into the atmosphere, and can be buried in the soil. Under stressful conditions, fungi usually strengthen the cell walls, spending proteins and, ultimately, all the same carbon, which is buried as a result.
A group of scientists led by Kathleen Treseder of the University of California, Irvine tried to find out if this observation relates to changes in soil moisture.
Biologists conducted two expeditions - to the taiga in Alaska and the jungle of Costa Rica. In both cases, the objects of study were samples of myceliums collected from the soil of wet (swampy) places and where it is drier.
When analyzing them, it turned out that fungi living in relatively dry places tend to accumulate carbon, and as the soil dries up, this property increases. This is probably due to the fact that mushrooms are accustomed to living in high humidity, and the dried substrate is stress for them.
This has certain consequences, while - computational. There are a lot of mushrooms in the wild. Their influence on the carbon cycle should be assessed and further taken into account in mathematical models considering climate change.
Kathleen Trezeder presented her research at the annual meeting of the American Agronomic Society. A summary is available on the EurekAlert!