Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Professor hopes to help high elevation pines grow

21.07.2009
Thread-like fungi that grow in soils at high elevations may play an important role in restoring whitebark and limber pine forests in Canada. Montana State University professor Cathy Cripps is looking for ways to use fungi to help pine seedlings get a strong start.

Cripps' is working with resource managers and visitor relations staff from Waterton Lakes National Park (WLNP). She is part of a project that aims to restore fire to the national park, reduce the impact of noxious weeds and restore disturbed sites to native vegetation, including whitebark and limber pine. The pines have declined from 40 to 60 percent across their range, and when the trees die, the fungi associated with them also die.

"Cathy's research on fungi and their importance to these pines at various life stages has led us to believe that we may no longer have the necessary fungi in our soils because of the long decline of both pines," said Cyndi Smith, conservation biologist at WLNP.

Both pines are dying from a combination of an introduced disease (white pine blister rust), mountain pine beetle, fire suppression and a warmer climate.

Cripps' role in the project is to identify native mycorrhizal fungi--fungi associated with plant roots. Specifically, she is looking for mycorrhizal fungi that associate with whitebark and limber pines. The fungi are important in the establishment and survival of the trees.

"Mycorrhizae make the trees healthier and more able to resist disease, insects and drought," said Cripps.

Mycorrhizal fungi grow on the roots of 90 percent of plants, according to Cripps.

"Mycorrhizae extend the plants' root system and can get into places in the soil that the root system can't access," said Cripps.

Mycorrhizae take in, and share with the plant, nutrients such as phosphorous and nitrogen. The fungi can improve drought tolerance by delivering additional water to the trees. The trees leak sugars produced during photosynthesis that feed the fungus.

Finding the fungi isn't easy. While some fungi produce mushrooms, many of the species Cripps hunts live entirely underground. She looks for small cracks in the soil where the fungus may have pushed the soil up, or places where small mammals have dug, attracted by the scent of the fungi's underground fruiting bodies.

Cripps hikes in dry forests a few days after a rain. Since the fungi she is interested in associate with high elevation trees, she must wait until mid-to-late summer when the snow has melted from the mountains.

"It's painstaking work," said Cripps. "There is a lot of walking and searching for almost unnoticeable signs."

Cripps has surveyed mycorrhizae from Yellowstone through Waterton Lakes National Park and into Banff, Canada, and has found related fungi associated with these pines throughout the northern Rockies. These mycorrhizal fungi are specific to five-needled pines, including whitebark and limber pines.

When she finds the fungi, she collects them in small plastic boxes to take back to her lab at MSU. Cripps grows new fungi from the ones she collected and adds it to the soil of whitebark pine seedlings in the greenhouse.

The seedlings with fungi in their soil become greener and more robust than the seedlings without the fungi, according to Cripps' unpublished results.

The next step is to determine which fungi species are most effective for larger scale use.

"It's a slow process because these seedlings grow so slowly," said Cripps.

Cripps doesn't have the luxury of taking her time on this project, regardless of the trees' growth rate.

Cripps, along with other researchers and land managers involved in the Waterton Lakes project hope to add fungi from Cripps lab to 1,500 whitebark pines seedlings they will plant this fall over 7 to 10 acres.

"All of the sudden the interest just blossomed with this grant," said Cripps. "It will be a race to the fall."

More information about restoring whitebark pine ecosystems: http://www.whitebarkfound.org/

Cathy Cripps at (406) 994.5226 or ccripps@montana.edu

Cathy Cripps | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.montana.edu

Further reports about: Mycorrhizae WLNP limber pines native vegetation pine forests pines root system

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Filling intercropping info gap
16.11.2017 | American Society of Agronomy

nachricht Climate change, population growth may lead to open ocean aquaculture
05.10.2017 | Oregon State University

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

Im Focus: Researchers Develop Data Bus for Quantum Computer

The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...

Im Focus: Wrinkles give heat a jolt in pillared graphene

Rice University researchers test 3-D carbon nanostructures' thermal transport abilities

Pillared graphene would transfer heat better if the theoretical material had a few asymmetric junctions that caused wrinkles, according to Rice University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Antarctic landscape insights keep ice loss forecasts on the radar

20.11.2017 | Earth Sciences

Filling the gap: High-latitude volcanic eruptions also have global impact

20.11.2017 | Earth Sciences

Water world

20.11.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>