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 Malaysia's unique freshwater mussels in danger
27.09.2016 | The University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus

nachricht How to detect water contamination in situ?
22.09.2016 | Tomsk Polytechnic University (TPU)

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: First-Ever 3D Printed Excavator Project Advances Large-Scale Additive Manufacturing R&D

Heavy construction machinery is the focus of Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s latest advance in additive manufacturing research. With industry partners and university students, ORNL researchers are designing and producing the world’s first 3D printed excavator, a prototype that will leverage large-scale AM technologies and explore the feasibility of printing with metal alloys.

Increasing the size and speed of metal-based 3D printing techniques, using low-cost alloys like steel and aluminum, could create new industrial applications...

Im Focus: New welding process joins dissimilar sheets better

Friction stir welding is a still-young and thus often unfamiliar pressure welding process for joining flat components and semi-finished components made of light metals.
Scientists at the University of Stuttgart have now developed two new process variants that will considerably expand the areas of application for friction stir welding.
Technologie-Lizenz-Büro (TLB) GmbH supports the University of Stuttgart in patenting and marketing its innovations.

Friction stir welding is a still-young and thus often unfamiliar pressure welding process for joining flat components and semi-finished components made of...

Im Focus: First quantum photonic circuit with electrically driven light source

Optical quantum computers can revolutionize computer technology. A team of researchers led by scientists from Münster University and KIT now succeeded in putting a quantum optical experimental set-up onto a chip. In doing so, they have met one of the requirements for making it possible to use photonic circuits for optical quantum computers.

Optical quantum computers are what people are pinning their hopes on for tomorrow’s computer technology – whether for tap-proof data encryption, ultrafast...

Im Focus: OLED microdisplays in data glasses for improved human-machine interaction

The Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP has been developing various applications for OLED microdisplays based on organic semiconductors. By integrating the capabilities of an image sensor directly into the microdisplay, eye movements can be recorded by the smart glasses and utilized for guidance and control functions, as one example. The new design will be debuted at Augmented World Expo Europe (AWE) in Berlin at Booth B25, October 18th – 19th.

“Augmented-reality” and “wearables” have become terms we encounter almost daily. Both can make daily life a little simpler and provide valuable assistance for...

Im Focus: Artificial Intelligence Helps in the Discovery of New Materials

With the help of artificial intelligence, chemists from the University of Basel in Switzerland have computed the characteristics of about two million crystals made up of four chemical elements. The researchers were able to identify 90 previously unknown thermodynamically stable crystals that can be regarded as new materials. They report on their findings in the scientific journal Physical Review Letters.

Elpasolite is a glassy, transparent, shiny and soft mineral with a cubic crystal structure. First discovered in El Paso County (Colorado, USA), it can also be...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Paper – Panacea Green Infrastructure?

30.09.2016 | Event News

HLF: From an experiment to an establishment

29.09.2016 | Event News

European Health Forum Gastein 2016 kicks off today

28.09.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

First-Ever 3D Printed Excavator Project Advances Large-Scale Additive Manufacturing R&D

30.09.2016 | Materials Sciences

New Technique for Finding Weakness in Earth’s Crust

30.09.2016 | Earth Sciences

Cells migrate collectively by intermittent bursts of activity

30.09.2016 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>