Led by IIASA Ecosystems Services and Management researcher
with a surprising observation. Root fungi were actually working
to maintain nitrogen scarcity in the forest. When less nitrogen
was available in the soil, fungi gave up less nitrogen to the trees.
But when nitrogen was abundant, they built up their stores like
speculators cornering the market in a commodity, effectively
forcing the trees to get their nitrogen from the fungi no matter what.
“The new theory pictures a more business-like relationship among
multiple buyers and sellers connected in a network,” Franklin said
in a press release. Instead of being a cooperative trade of carbon and
nitrogen between organisms, trees are forced to export large amounts
of carbon in order to unlock nitrogen stores from the fungi."
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