Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Fungus-enhanced plants popular with grasshoppers

06.08.2002


The prairie may appear to be a simple, rather plain scene at first glance. Gail Wilson knows better.



The tallgrass prairie teems with life. Fungi, plants and insects interact with each other in crucial ways scientists are trying to understand.

Wilson, a research associate in the Division of Biology at Kansas State University, David Hartnett, biology professor and director of the Konza Prairie Biological Station, and graduate student Abigail Kula, of Omaha, Neb., conducted a study showing that grasshoppers prefer plants with a fungal symbiosis. They are presenting the results of their study at the Ecological Society of America’s annual meeting this week in Tucson, Ariz.


Fungi called mycorrhizae live in the root systems of nearly all land-based plants. The fungus is not dangerous. In fact, it gives nutrients like phosphorus and nitrogen to the plant, while the plant feeds the fungus with life-giving carbon. The mutually beneficial relationship is called symbiosis. Plants in the tallgrass prairie will not grow without the fungus, which also help the plants live through drought and disease.

The researchers found that grasshoppers, which feed on plants, are more likely to be found on plants with mycorrhizal symbiosis. Wilson said grasshoppers may prefer those plants because they have more nutrients than plants without mycorrhizae. Mycorrhizal plants are also larger.

"Mycorrhizal plants are tolerant of damage and respond quickly to a moderate amount of grazing. We wanted to find out if grasshoppers favor mycorrhizal plants over plants without the symbiosis. The grasshoppers may prevent mycorrhizal plants from recovering if they cause more damage to these plants," Wilson said.

Wilson said the study brought prairie research closer to nature than previous studies, which have been conducted on single plant species. The K-State study was performed with a group of prairie plants grown together. The grasshoppers had the ability to choose between plant species and also between plants with and without the fungi.

"Other studies focus on one plant at a time. We focus on eight native tallgrass prairie plants," Kula said.

Though mycorrhizae are certainly not an endangered species, Wilson said scientists need to learn everything they can about this crucial part of the ecosystem.

All but 1 percent of America’s original tallgrass prairie has been destroyed. Ecologists trying to restore native grasslands may need to inoculate new plants with mycorrhizae. The fungus tends to be less abundant in agricultural sites, because the plants receive all the nutrients they need from fertilizers. But mycorrhizae might play a critical role in soil health that fertilizers do not.

"We’re not sure what eliminating the dependence of plants on the fungi does to the soil," Wilson said. "In sites where man has changed the soil, we’d like to know how critical mycorrhizae is."


###
The study was funded by a National Science Foundation grant

Gail Wilson | EurekAlert!

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Preservation of floodplains is flood protection
27.09.2017 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Conservationists are sounding the alarm: parrots much more threatened than assumed
15.09.2017 | Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Terahertz spectroscopy goes nano

20.10.2017 | Information Technology

Strange but true: Turning a material upside down can sometimes make it softer

20.10.2017 | Materials Sciences

NRL clarifies valley polarization for electronic and optoelectronic technologies

20.10.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>