JoNova

A science presenter, writer, speaker & former TV host; author of The Skeptic's Handbook (over 200,000 copies distributed & available in 15 languages).


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Growing trees 40% faster with the help of the right bacteria and fungi

Mycorrhiza helps root growth  | Photo CAES

Amazing how the Agricultural Revolution started 10,000 years ago, yet we still know so little about plant growth. We’ve been tossing bulk carrier loads of fertilizer at plants all over the world, but wasting some of it, and putting up with poorer yields and slower growth by not paying enough attention to the microbiology under the surface.

Obviously good scientific research, real science, can still deliver big improvements. Here’s a study showing that fruit trees, which normally take six years to reach maturity, can get there in three or four with the help of the right bacteria and fungi. This would help us adapt to climate change (of whatever kind is coming), help with reforestation, help feed the starving and improve the ability of these trees to survive during drought conditions too.

It applies to not just one or two species but to many kinds of trees: oaks, pines, mesquites, acacias, citrus and guava. Presumably this would help the “direct action” plan store more carbon in our soils too, not that that will change the weather, but it will help improve our soils:

“…the beneficial bacteria are located in the immediate area surrounding the root or rhizosphere, and among these bacteria are a group classified as “growth promoters,” which fulfill the function of helping the plant development and protect it from the attack of pathogenic microorganisms or by producing phytohormones; these substances allow a supply of nutrients and water.

The fungi that provide benefits, says Olalde Portugal, are the called myccorrhizal. When in contact with the roots a biochemical communication starts that allows the trees to adapt with no problems when transplanted. Besides, the microorganism is responsible for exploring the ground beyond the reach of the roots and brings them useful elements for their development, like phosphorus.

This is not an esoteric minor improvement — they’re talking about more efficient photosynthesis:

…the specialist stresses that the plant with myccorrhizal fungi perform photosynthesis in a more efficient way, using less water than those who don’t have the association. At the same time, all physiological processes change, resulting in rapid developing trees.

An electron micrograph of a mycorrhiza on an evergreen seedling. Mycorrhizal filaments radiate into the soil from the mycorrhiza root tip.

This would have to improve yields of crops as well. Adapting to climate change (when we are so bad at predicting it) is the only policy that makes sense. If funding for efforts to change the weather was sucked dry and fed into research like this we would all be healthier and wealthier. Some people (the poorest of the poor) would be better fed too. These microbes are sophisticated self-replicating nanotechnology (or perhaps “microtechnology”) — we don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Hundreds of millions of years of evolution has already tested and produced tiny chemical factories ready to help us.

Microbes extend plant roots, increasing absorbing area by up to 1000 fold

Mycorrhizal Management  describes how these microbes help plants get nutrients out of the soil, and why they may have made it possible for marine plants to colonize land 400 million years ago.

“Mycorrhizal root systems increase the absorptive the absorbing area of roots 10 to 1000 times thereby greatly improving the ability of the plants to utilize the soil resource. (Figure 4). Mycorrhizal fungi are able to absorb and transfer all of the 15 major macro and micro nutrients necessary for plant growth. Mycorrhizal fungi release powerful chemicals into the soil that dissolve hard to capture nutrients such as phosphorous, iron and other “tightly bound” soil nutrients. This extraction process is particularly important in plant nutrition and explains why non mycorrhizal plants require high levels of fertility to maintain their health. Mycorrhizal fungi form an intricate web that captures and assimilates nutrients conserving the nutrient capital in soils. In non mycorrhizal conditions much of this fertility is wasted or lost from the system.”

“Commercial production of mycorrhizal fungi for practical use has been available in the last decade, however, the importance of mycorrhizal fungi has been evident for some 400 million years. The earliest fossil records of the roots of land plants contain evidence of the fossil remains of mycorrhizal fungi. Scientists now believe that the “marriage” of mycorrhizal fungus and plant played an essential role in the evolutionary step which brought aquatic plants from sea to land. At some point in the evolutionary process, a filament penetrated into the outer cells of a primitive plant root. Once there, it accommodated itself so nicely that a new, more complex entity emerged, the mycorrhiza. The increased absorbing area provided by an elaborate system of fungal filaments allowed aquatic plants to leave the marine environment and exploit a relatively harsh soil environment.”

–  Michael P. Amaranthus, Ph.D. 1999

Probiotics for your soil?

For those of you who are gardeners there are products you can already buy to improve your home grown flora. Some farmers are aware and have been using microbiology to improve their garden and farm for years.

See also Organic Gardening    Sustainable Gardening   The Dirt doctor   Soil Inoculants

Mycoapply Ecto/Ecto    Landscapers Bionutrition

Photos from CAES (see Soil Inoculants above) and Mycorrhizal Management

REFERENCE

Investigación y Desarrollo (2013, September 11). Bacteria enhance growth of fruit trees up to 40 percent. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 12, 2013, from

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69 comments to Growing trees 40% faster with the help of the right bacteria and fungi

  • #

    This is why we leave Acacias in the ground wherever possible, even in orchard type landscapes, this is their world.

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  • #
    Dave

    Great article Jo,

    I have been using a similar product, but never understood all the details, except that it works.

    If you’re in Australia, this mob supply on line.

    I have been using a local product (they’re local for me – but they do online sales) that has been terrific.
    Nutri-tech Home pack. I use this on lawns, gardens, fruit trees etc and get about 200 sq meters per $30 purchase. Even noticed a large reduction in pests, especially on the citrus.

    Cheaper and easier per sq meter than inorganic fertilisers.

    50

    • #
      Reinder van Til

      I live in Belgium and have a a garden too. I grow potatoes, lettuces, endive, broccoli, coley flower, spinach, leafbeet, onions, leek, kale, beans, courgettes, paprikas, peppers, herbs, prume trees and apple trees. In small greenhouses I grow tomatoes, paprikas, peppers and aubergines. Do you have positive effects on those plants and trees as well (if you have them)?

      00

  • #

    Interesting! I know that some Australian natives need a special fungi to grow -is it native plum or native apricot?

    Link does not work. I would like a copy of the paper. can someone put up a link to download the paper?

    10

    • #

      There are different species with the same common name, I know of at least 10 ‘plums’. Fungi is absolutely necessary for some species, such as the giant California Redwood, also a Tasmanian species grows a very large fungus, I believe in multi-hectare size or more. There are a lot of symbiotic relationships in native plant species, which includes insects too, as well as bacteria and fungi. High Phosphorus fertilizers kill many species, by killing off the bacteria that the plants use to absorb the chemical, with an overdose.

      10

    • #
      • #
        Dave

        Tom,

        Great research by a Mexican non-governmental scientific research organisation, such a shame that CSIRO doesn’t seem to come close to this sort of scientific study anymore. The potential is unlimited for crop and food production for the world.

        At the end of the article it says:

        The specialist exposed that with this finding they expect to make technological packages that can be transferred to a company interested in the development of this alternative from agrochemicals or to associate with nursery producers.

        Isn’t it wonderful that in Mexico you have such a link between science and agricultural industry. CSIRO (BOM also) is now a GREEN gravy train of CAGW believers, producing fear and media releases, to propagate their never ending downward spiral of deception on the Australian public. It’s getting closer to ending this scam by pollies, now that Dr. Jensen will have a say.

        CSIRO, BOM and the ABC should have a specific left leaning bacterial or fungal cleansing.

        132

        • #
          Rereke Whakaaro

          CSIRO, BOM and the ABC should have a specific left leaning bacterial or fungal cleansing.

          Surely you are not suggesting a pogrom?

          I, for one, would be very much against such a move in regard to the CSIRO and BOM.

          23

          • #
            Andrew McRae

            Sir, No, Sir, Senator McCarthy, Sir!

            It’s always a danger with revolutions that people have gotten so worked up about the enemy that in the throes of retribution they become the monsters they hated.

            30

    • #
      Allen Ford

      Australian terrestrial orchids are one group of plants that require mycorrhiza for germination. The Sydney Royal Botannic Gardens is one group that has done reseach in this area. also Murdoch Uni in WA – do a google!

      00

  • #

    Extra CO2 must help too. Acacia aneura, Mulga, is the most widespread species of shrub or tree in Australia. Perfectly adapted to bacteria and fungi use, lives in the harshest climate. It also harvests water with fine grooves that channel rainwater down stems to the base of the tree, resulting in a frothy protein for bacteria.
    The use of fungicides and fertilizers should be kept to an absolute minimum. Feeding the bacteria and fungi using water harvesting in gardening practices.

    60

    • #
      Dave

      Tom,

      Do you think the crushed mineral soil improvers and microbe mixtures (common in WA and Queensland) are OK instead of the heavy use of fertilisers in areas close to river catchment areas? I have used these microbe mixes in septic tanks to get them started, but doubt if they would affect the river systems.

      20

  • #
    maurie

    Some years ago, I recall an issue regarding a revegetation somewhere in Tasmania where rain runoff was suspected of being the culprit when higher than usual incidents of cancer were being diagnosed. I have no knowledge to draw on to even believe these things or not but am just aware that now we are largely rid of the scam scienists who have been collected by the labor/green whatever power at any cost government, I only hope correct research will be applied in fields such as this. Suffering the noise of brainless idiots being permitted to encourage our young to develope dental features akin to a third world, without a community wide outcry I think is a warning to genuine scientists that they should be very diligent.

    41

  • #
    Lank

    Rising CO2 promotes the growth of these important mycorrhizal fungi.

    90

  • #
    Sunray

    Thank you Jo, for another edifying article. Yep, good for the soul.

    41

  • #
    Kevin Lohse

    I’ve been using Mycoorhiza enhancements in my garden in UK for a couple of years now. It’s brilliant for quickly establishing bare-root trees, vines and shrubs including raspberries, blackberries and gooseberries, and gives a boost to tomatos and squashes if added when planting out seedlings. Haven’t tried it on brassicas or potatoes Use very sparingly or you’ll just waste it. In my part of the country, average precipitation is 19-23″ per year.

    40

    • #
      Dave

      Kevin,

      Do you have any information on the types or species of microbes (fungi or bacteria) that are suitable for each plant group. eg lawns, citrus, grapes, acacias, etc? (Maybe Tom Harley may know the Australian natives)

      The one I buy has the following in it (both bacteria and fungi):
      Zotobacter vinelandii, Bacillus megaterium, Bacillus subtilis, Bradyrhizobium japonicum, Chaetomium globosum, Pseudomonas fluorescens, Pseudomonas putida, Pseudomonas stutzeri, Rhizobium leguminosarum, Streptomyces albidoflavus, Streptomyces cellulosae & Trichoderma lignorum.

      Now a chart with the appropriate microbe for each plant genus or species would be invaluable.

      When I use the above product, especially during the wet season, the bad fungi that causes root rot seems to disappear also.

      ——————————————————————————————————
      Maybe the incoming Minister of Science, Dr Dennis Jensen could reallocate CAGW fraud money to this type of research. Bring back the real science.

      I mean look at the bloke – a scientist:

      Dr Denis Jensen
      BAppSc (RMIT), MSc (Melb), PhD (Monash).
      Air traffic controller 1983-86.
      Research scientist, CSIRO 1995-99.
      Research scientist and defence analyst 1999-2004.

      While the wet dish cloth Greg Hunt (should be sacked):

      The Hon Greg Hunt MP
      BA(Hons), LLB(Hons I) (Melb), MA (Yale).
      University Prize, Final Year Thesis, Melbourne University; Yale Fellowship; Schell Centre for Human Rights Fellowship, Yale Law School.
      Captain, Australian Universities Debating Team 1990.
      Articled Clerk, Malleson Stephen Jacques 1991-92.
      Associate to Chief Justice of the Australian Federal Court 1992.
      Fulbright Scholar and Teaching Assistant, Yale University 1992-94.
      Senior Adviser to the Leader of the Opposition, AJG Downer, MP 1994-95.
      Senior Adviser to the Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs, AJG Downer, MP 1995-96.
      Senior Adviser to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Hon. AJG Downer, MP 1996-98.
      Chief, Australian Electoral Observer Mission to Cambodia 1998.
      Senior Fellow, Centre for Comparative Constitutional Law, University of Melbourne 1998-99.
      Engagement Manager, McKinsey and Co 1999-2001.
      Director of Strategy, World Economic Forum, Geneva 2000-01

      Who would you prefer.

      The Green Vandals are going ballistic already with this future appointment.

      211

      • #

        I notice Greg Hunt was Director of Strategy, World Economic Forum, Geneva 2000-01

        From what I have assembled on the WEF below it appears to have many interesting connections, including Maurice Strong as a director at some stage.

        http://www.tome22.info/Organisations/WEF-World-Economic-Forum.html

        This is not the background I would like in a Liberal cabinet minister and may partially explain his CAGW beliefs.

        60

      • #
        Rereke Whakaaro

        Research scientist and defence analyst 1999-2004.

        Dr Denis Jensen sounds a bit dodgy to me – know what I mean?

        02

      • #
        Allen Ford

        The Green Vandals are going ballistic already with this future appointment.

        … like the mouth foaming letter writers to the SMH, this morning!

        How’s this for the full set of howlers?

        Although climate science is extremely complex, if 97 per cent of climate scientists accept that humans make a major contribution to global warming, then this is almost certainly the case. The ”theory of global warming” is proven beyond reasonable doubt and remains a theory only in the sense that all science is always open to rethinking in the light of new evidence.

        Jensen’s claim that nature and reality are indifferent to consensus opinion is, of course, correct reasoning. But this in no way disproves the consensus opinion, and it certainly doesn’t confirm Jensen’s opinion on climate change. Why appoint a climate change sceptic to the science portfolio anyway? Why not appoint a flat earther, a seven-day creation scientist, an alchemist or a Scientologist?

        or this gem?

        Jensen hardly represents, and is likely the antithesis of balance in the science portfolio. And let’s not ponder the intellectual credibility of a potential science minister who cites Lord Monckton as being ”closer to the mark” than scientists on climate science.

        20

  • #
    Truthseeker

    Amazing what you can do with some real science …

    Not a computer model in sight …

    I have been using Seasol, but this is very interesting.

    91

  • #
    Phillip Bratby

    Myccorrhizal fungi have been recommended on all gardening programmes in the UK for a couple of years or so now. I haven’t personally tried any.

    20

    • #
      Rereke Whakaaro

      Can’t be any good then, if everybody is recommending it. It sounds too much like “the consensus” for my liking.

      21

  • #
    AndyG55

    Somewhat akin to companion planting.

    Nature aiding itself.

    30

  • #
    Yonniestone

    Oh the arrogance! to use science to actually help trees survive when all good environmentalists know they should be cut down and burnt in a “Drax” type power station, it’s sustainable and makes more sense than burning abundant dirty coal which only emits dangerous CO2 which in turn is used by plants to grow and…..oh crap.

    72

  • #
    Ian

    Scientists now believe that the “marriage” of mycorrhizal fungus and plant played an essential role in the evolutionary step which brought aquatic plants from sea to land”. This is fascinating stuff as it is akin to the precursors of mitochondria, the “powerhouses” of mammalian cells, which are thought to be derived from incorporation of prokaryotic cells (eg bacteria) into eukaryotic cells (eg mammalian cells) Mitochondria are called the “powerhouses” of mammalian cells as they generate the energy required by the cell by moving electrons around various pathways. The best known end products of these electron movement are CO2 and water, rather apt for this blog

    50

    • #
      Gee Aye

      Just a basic biology correction. Mitochondria are in all eukaryotic cells* including plants, animals and numerous other kingda that you might want to investigate.

      * false but this is not the place for an examination of lineages that link to plants and animals near the base of the euk tree.

      01

  • #
    Another Ian

    Jo,

    FYI

    http://www.publish.csiro.au/paper/AR99Vesicular-arbuscular mycorrhiza in semi-arid pastures of south-west Queensland and their effect on growth responses to phosphorus fertilizers by grasses

    RD Armstrong, KR Helyar and EK Christie

    Australian Journal of Agricultural Research 43(5) 1143 – 1155
    Published: 1992

    Abstract
    21143

    10

  • #
    ROM

    Any grain farmer has at least some knowledge of the role that mycorrhiza [ fungus. usually just called ":mycorrhiza" ] plays in a symbiotic role with the plant it colonises in the esential role of scavenging for and transporting nutrients to a plant.

    The plants in turn provide the broken down nutrients in a form that can be utilised by and supplies the energy needed by the mycorrhiza.

    There is a researcher from I think, the Waite Ag research unit in Adelaide [ I think ] who is an expert in mycorrhiza.
    She has addressed the western Victorian farmer owned and operated, Birchip Cropping Group’s [ BCG ] research organisation on at least a couple of occassions at their main crop variety and farming technology field days [ this year's BCG Field Days was today ] over the last few years on mycorrhiza and the role it plays in plant growth and productivity.

    There is actually quite a lot of research going on into these quite arcane and not very well researched or understood parts of the world food production research chain such as the role of mycorrhiza and the possibly millions or possibly billions of genetic variations of mycorrhiza each adapted to plant species and possibly even plant variety specific mycorrhiza and the role they play in humanities food crop production.

    You just can’t take any old mycorrhiza and expect it to work on a specific plant species. Nature has tailored each genetically different mycorrhiza genotype to fit the needs and the physiology of that plant species or plant genotype.

    What really gets my hackles up is the Agricultural Researchers and the plant breeder’s of the world’s basic food crops, the creators of humanity’s real time basic needs essential for the survival of the human race in all our numbers [ and growing ] are paid in an almost direct inverse proportion to their importance to the human race.

    Even more so when compared to these so called climate warming researchers and the utter stupidity thrust upon us by some of these quite nefarious, bigoted and corrupted climate warming researchers who have hyped up a completely non crucial , normal fluctuation in global temperatures with data derived from some very dodgy sources of very doubtful veracity into a supposed global calamity for which they are getting paid obscene amounts of money to do their supposed research on.

    If you have full bellies provided as a direct result of the plant breeder’s long hours of laboratory and field work, you can forget about the things that really count such as clean water, adequate and nourishing food, adequate shelter and adequate and cheap energy that are the essentials when it comes to the the well being and even survival of billions of other humans on this planet.

    Turn all those immense financial and organisation resources lavishly splurged on near useless so called climate warming research into food production and agricultural research and the world’s people’ would never need face hunger again.

    If some global cooling does occur which i suspect will be the case as somebody who has been mixed up in and involved with Ag research from the farmer end for close to 50 years now, I would not guarantee that the world’s farmer’s can feed the world’s increasing population if we move into a colder climatic period as so much land in the northern food production areas in the northern hemisphere would no longer be able to grow most human food crops to maturity due to the shorter, colder seasons in those regions.

    When you have an empty belly and for the better off, empty super market shelves, CAGW doesn’t mean a single damn thing to anybody .
    And that is the complete, utter stupidity which future generations are going to wonder at as to just what in the hell ever possessed our generation that it apparently swallowed whole such rampant utterly fraudulent science and alchemy instead of seeing to the welfare and future of humanity when our essential future needs such as adequate food supplies and production were placed at the end of humanity’s resources and finance access queue by our present generation.

    91

  • #
    ROM

    A quick explanation for my above post
    star comment
    The “mycorrhiza” I am referring to in my above post are the filament type root mycorrhiza that is always mean’t when farmer’s and Ag researchers talk about mycorrhiza.
    Some other above ground species of fungal systems and there are millions if not billions of species of fungus are also from the mycorrhiza family.

    A question sometimes asked by the more perspective questioners is why nearly all the world’s major coal resources date back some 300 million years ago and there does not seem to be any major coal seams laid down since that immense time ago.

    The answer possibly lies in the then newly developed genetic ability of fungi to break down plant lignin, the basic skeleton of plants and the source of today’s coal.
    Once fungi had developed this ability to break down the plant’s lignin, a process we call rotting, then the lignin no longer existed in the immense amounts needed to create the coal beds

    From Scientific American

    White Rot Fungi Slowed Coal Formation

    Now a new genomic analysis suggests why Earth significantly slowed its coal-making processes roughly 300 million years ago—mushrooms evolved the ability to break down lignin. “These white rot fungi are major decomposers of wood and the only organism that achieves substantial degradation of lignin,” explains mycologist David Hibbett of Clark University in Massachusetts, who led the research published in Science on June 29.

    By comparing 12 newly sequenced genomes of mushroom fungi with 19 existing genomes, the researchers determined that an ancestral white rot fungi (Agaricomycetes) first evolved the ability to break down lignin. The scientists then used so-called “molecular clock analysis”—a dating technique based on the hypothesis that genes accumulate mutations at a relatively regular rate like trees form rings that record their growth. Such an analysis suggests that an ancestral white rot fungi developed this lignin-degrading ability roughly 290 million years ago, a conclusion backed by comparison with the appearance in the fossil record of three other types of fungi (although the first definitive white rot fossil does not appear until roughly 260 million years ago) and the subsequent expansion and refinement of the arsenal of enzymes employed. The 60-million-year-long Carboniferous period—when the bulk of the world’s coal deposits were laid down and atmospheric CO2 levels declined—ended roughly 300 million years ago.

    The coincidental timing suggests the appearance of this ability to break down lignin helped slow the massive burial of organic carbon via nondegraded tree trunks and other wood, such as the lignin-rich fernlike plants known as arborescent lycophytes, now extinct. Previous explanations largely argued that such coal formation was a result of the Carboniferous’s swampy conditions—after lignin-rich plants fell into these swamps, they simply were buried rather than broken down by fungi or microbes and turned to peat and then coal over geologic time frame. “They’re not mutually exclusive,” Hibbett notes, although more of the easily overlooked fungal fossils would need to be found to determine the truth.

    41

  • #

    ROM, You are wrong about the age of coals.
    star comment
    OGGI
    Coals form in swamps, & bogs turning into peat. There are peat deposits forming at the present time. In UK humans remains and tools have been recovered from peat bogs.
    Brown coals form from peat under pressure and temperature. The Victorian Brown coal deposits were laid down only 20 to 50 million years ago. One can find fossils of trees such as Kauri, King Billy Pines, Banksias etc which are living plants now. see https://www.powercor.com.au/docs/pdf/Community%20and%20Environment/Fact%20Sheet%20-%20Victoria%27s%20Brown%20coal.pdf
    With more pressure from deeper burying by overlaying sediments and earth movements water is squeezed out and oxygen lost so the coal becomes harder black coal. In some black coal deposits it is possible to see whole carbonised tree trunks.

    41

    • #
      ianl8888

      It’s also interesting that US/UK people still keep claiming that the bulk of the global coal deposits were formed during the Carboniferous – this is true enough (not nearly 100% though) in the US and UK

      But Russia, China, Aus, S Africa, Indonesia, Brazil etc etc contain vast coalified deposits ranging in age from Permian to Tertiary (the bulk of these are Permian). I did a review of the known tonnages attached to the various Ages about 25 years ago. The Carboniferous deposits do not form the “vast bulk” of known global deposits. NZ, while containing serious deposit tonnages, has very little coal deposits of Carboniferous age

      For those who perhaps think that this distinction doesn’t matter, coal qualities/structural geology/overburden characteristics/gas concentrations/mineralogy and macerals together with a myriad of other characteristics are distinctive to the age of the deposit. Economic detail matters greatly

      20

      • #

        ianI8888,

        I know it’s off topic, but that coal age that you mention here is interesting. The coal coming from the Bowen Basin is sought after(??) because it is supposedly cleaner burning. (??) Would that aspect be based around the age of the deposit?

        Tony.

        12

    • #
      Gee Aye

      this got a star? Anybody with a basic biology text book would know the problem with the citation

      Some of the fossils are so well preserved that scientists have
      been able to learn from them a lot about the early history of
      Australia. Some of the trees identifi ed in the coal have not grown
      in Victoria for millions of years. Among the trees identifi ed are
      Kauri, Celery Top Pine, King Billy Pine, Brown Pine, Sheoak
      and Banksia.

      Which scientist said this? I’d like to know which journal threw away peer review to publish this. Basically the phrase missed out by the “science communicator” is “relate to”. None of those species(a common name refers to a species or maybe a genus) were around in the tertiary but things related to the ancestors of them were. I would also be very sceptical about the presence of something identifiable as a relative of a banksia prior to the KT.

      12

      • #
        Dave

        Gee Aye,

        A few points:

        1. The banksias are thought to have evolved some 60 MYA. So it definitely didn’t exist in it’s current form prior to the Tertiary/Cretaceous period boundary.

        However, a new study of the evolution of fire-adapted traits in banksias by researchers at Curtin University, in Perth, suggests these plants were reacting to fire as far back as 61 million years ago, shortly after the dinosaurs disappeared.

        From Curtin Uni media release.
        But the article stated “for millions of years” – and didn’t mention the KT boundary.

        2. The Agathis (Kauri pines), Araucarias (bunyas etc) are all found prior to this KT boundary.

        3. The Allocasuarinas or Sheoaks are not recorded either prior to the KT era. Being a flowering plant, it has been considered to be much later than the banksia.

        But it does seem the article cannot provide any evidence of the fossils found in this area.

        10

  • #
    Eric Anderson

    Wait juuuust a minute. Are you saying that microorganisms can affect tree growth rates? It is a well established principle of Mannian Treemometers that one thing alone can account for tree growth: temperature.

    Hmmmm, I’ll have to think about this some more. Who am I gonna believe — Mann or my lying eyes?

    71

  • #
    Tim

    Is this site now recommending a science-based acceptance of Tony Abbott’s acceptance of the Bob Hawke plan to plant heaps more trees?

    The Chinese took this to the limits and sucked so much moisture out of the soil that dams went dry.

    Some programs have their limitations when taken to the edge.

    00

  • #
    michael hart

    Interesting. Thanks, Jo.
    It is usually not that difficult to spot the difference between scientific research where the authors are engaged in trying to make the world a better place, and others who seem focused upon discovering new problems to frighten us with.

    “Research” telling us to stop doing the things that made us able to afford publicly-funded scientific research in the first place, is not sensible and probably doesn’t attract the best minds.

    21

  • #
    AndyG55

    We all know that midichlorians provide all of life’s Force, these are just a variation.

    11

  • #
    Manfred

    Intriguing Jo. You may have just saved some struggling trees I have.

    It also struck me that this stuff could be essential to the dispossessed bureaucrats in their one-way exile on Mars. Do they have the nous to take some with them?

    20

  • #

    One of our local organic gardeners co-wrote a book on what he refers to as the soil-food web, the proper mix of bacteria and fungus in soil to promote healthy plant growth. Mycorrhizal fungus is one type. It is not the only one. He suggests a regular application of compost tea brewed by bubbling air thru a water mixture with a couple cups of good compost in it. It is popular among the organic gardeners, though you have to ignore or suffer their quasi-religious view of the world. I have been using the techniques for about 8 years on a lawn and garden here in Anchorage and they work pretty well for cranky old conservatives. The book, “Teaming with Microbes” can be found on Amazon and is worth a read. Cheers –

    http://www.amazon.com/Teaming-Microbes-Organic-Gardeners-Revised/dp/1604691131

    20

  • #
    Yonniestone

    I must confess I’m one of those people who truly admire a beautiful garden or landscape only to have little or no interest in doing the work myself, I’m not lazy just not enthused about doing it so I would like give a big thanks to everyone who toil in their garden to create their own little utopia.
    My favorite place is the local botanic gardens which has an almost mystical aura sometimes (no I don’t eat certain fungi) and this mixed with exquisite classical marble statues placed throughout makes for a memorable experience.
    The next unthreaded I’ll post up some photos.

    20

    • #
      Winston

      Yonnie,

      You do realise that these botanical gardens are an abomination to Gaia, don’t you?

      You import all these verdant species from around the globe, plant them semi-geometrically according to human whim, then alter natural watercourses in complete indifference to the natural topography and ecosystems that have dwelled here harmoniously for millennia!

      They should all be burned to the ground to expel the evil spirits, and returned to the pristine beauty of the spinifex-laden wasteland that they once were. Then, and only then, could you commune with nature as Gaia intended.

      Now that’s “utopia” for the environmentally conscious and the righteous in the enlightened 21st century.

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        Yonniestone

        Winston what can I say, you’ve outed me as the evil parasite I am and now feel nothing but shame, it leaves me to quote the great bard to express my depressive remorse.

        “I have of late–but
        wherefore I know not–lost all my mirth, forgone all
        custom of exercises; and indeed it goes so heavily
        with my disposition that this goodly frame, the
        earth, seems to me a sterile promontory, this most
        excellent canopy, the air, look you, this brave
        o’erhanging firmament, this majestical roof fretted
        with golden fire, why, it appears no other thing to
        me than a foul and pestilent congregation of vapours.
        What a piece of work is a man! how noble in reason!
        how infinite in faculty! in form and moving how
        express and admirable! in action how like an angel!
        in apprehension how like a god! the beauty of the
        world! the paragon of animals! And yet, to me,
        what is this quintessence of dust? man delights not
        me: no, nor woman neither, though by your smiling
        you seem to say so.”

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          Winston

          You are forgiven, Yonnie.

          As a consequence your stay in the Kumbayaa Enviro-terrorist Re-education Camp should be brief (and may even include bathing privileges), if you continue to show adequate contrition of course, and provided you give offerings to Gaia weekly for the duration of your stay.

          Sincerely yours,

          Winston
          Camp facilitator

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    Brian G Valentine

    I have a hard time accepting any member of the Kingdom, fungi with the capability of “photosynthesis.”

    In any event I am not sure about increasing “carbon” content of soils with this. Wood rot fungi such as members of genus Coriolis would increase at the same rate as root development, converting the wood to CO2, leaving no net gain

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    [...] contribution to the plant/soil interface. This kind of thing was under investigation in the CSIRO Soils Division in Adelaide a few decades [...]

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    MartinX

    Brian: “the plant with myccorrhizal fungi perform photosynthesis in a more efficient way”. They are not claiming that the fungus is capable of photosynthesis, but it’s association with the plant enables it to photosynthesise more efficiently. It’s awkwardly worded, since what they are actually trying to say is that by making more nutrients available to the plant, it can grow more. They’re just using the phrase “perform photosynthesis” as a way of saying that.

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      I agree Martin. Actually it had not even occurred to me that sentence was ambiguous. I assumed that the fungi help provide the right minerals (or some other advantage) through the roots to make the photosynthetic apparatus in the leaves more efficient.

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    ROM

    Yes you are quite right in your comment on the accepted method for the formation of coal from the compressing and heating of vast vegetation filled peat swamps as they were / are covered and buried by geological processes.
    But the geologically situation is that the most of the world’s major coal beds of today were laid down in the Carboniferous Era of some 354 million years ago to 290 MYA.

    The Carboniferous Period:

    Plants Cover The Earth

    The Carboniferous Period of the Paleozoic Era began 354 million years ago. It lasted for about 64 million years, until 290 million years ago.
    The name “Carboniferous” came from the large amounts of carbon-bearing coal that was formed during the period.

    There have been other more recent eras in Earth’s geological history since 290 million years ago where similar large scale coal formation process should have occurred as the climate and vegetation was not that dissimilar to the Carboniferous Era .
    However coal formation during these periods, although existent, is only relatively minor compared to the Carboniferous Era.

    Geologists have long been somewhat puzzled by the relatively sudden cessation of major coal formation processes which spelt the end of the major coal forming Carboniferous Era.
    There is some evidence that other factors must have come into play to inhibit but did not stop completely the formation of coal.
    And one of those likely factors was the development of the ability to decay the tough lignins of the plants by the fungi and mycorrhiza so destroying the bulk of the lignin which is the major constituent of all coal formation.

    The following Science paper of May 2012 introduces the idea of development of the fungi / mycorrhiza’s genetically based abilities to break down lignin as a possible further reason, in addition to a major climate shift, for the major cessation of large scale coal formation at the end of the Carboniferous Era.

    The Science abstract.

    The Paleozoic Origin of Enzymatic Lignin Decomposition Reconstructed from 31 Fungal Genomes

    ABSTRACT
    Wood is a major pool of organic carbon that is highly resistant to decay, owing largely to the presence of lignin. The only organisms capable of substantial lignin decay are white rot fungi in the Agaricomycetes, which also contains non–lignin-degrading brown rot and ectomycorrhizal species. Comparative analyses of 31 fungal genomes (12 generated for this study) suggest that lignin-degrading peroxidases expanded in the lineage leading to the ancestor of the Agaricomycetes, which is reconstructed as a white rot species, and then contracted in parallel lineages leading to brown rot and mycorrhizal species. Molecular clock analyses suggest that the origin of lignin degradation might have coincided with the sharp decrease in the rate of organic carbon burial around the end of the Carboniferous period.

    “organic carbon burial” = Coal formation processes.

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    ROM

    Sorry. My above post 27 was a reply to cementafriend’s Post 17.

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      ianl8888

      Please see my comment to post #17 above

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        ROM

        I sometimes wonder just how much of the Carboniferous Era’s coal deposits have been subducted into and buried deep in the earth’s mantle by the tectonic plate movements over the last 300 million years leaving younger coals appearing as a higher percentage of the current coal deposits.

        Being buried so deep and under incredible pressures and temperatures, I suspect that a lot of or most such deeply buried coal’s carbon content, which coal mostly is of course, has been transformed into methane which is seeping it’s way into the upper crust mantle and ultimately being again transformed into the hydrocarbons we know as gas and oil and thereby creating some of the gas and oil reservoirs that have been and are likely to remain the mainstay of our global energy systems for a long time into the future.

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    handjive

    I wanna get in first!

    Just saw your opine @ the Australian. Great work!

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    MemoryVault

    TOTALLY O/T

    But hopefully I will be forgiven. Opportunities are few and far between.

    Every time power generation gets mentioned here (which is often), the conversation invariably turns to gas as a viable alternative. Every time that happens I jump on my hobby horse and try and point out there IS NO GAS available for large scale conversion to, or construction of, gas fired burners.

    The reason is that when gas projects are developed here, there is no requirement for a certain amount to be set aside for domestic purposes. If a private group, or a state government, want to obtain gas from a project, then they have to jump in at the very beginning as commercial partners in the enterprise.

    To date this hasn’t been happening, so there are no large scale supplies of gas available for power generation. Even if this situation were to change tomorrow, these projects have lead times measured in years, so, for the foreseeable future the whole idea of a major conversion to gas generated electricity is a fantasy.

    This situation is in stark contrast to how it works in America, where ALL gas production is automatically deemed for domestic consumption, and a special licence is required to flog the stuff off overseas.

    .
    I’ve explained this many times without anybody taking the slightest bit of notice, so I can only assume people simply don’t believe me. I’ve jumped in here completely O/T because this article has just appeared on the ABC which fully explains it. I hope all the gas proponents will take the time to read it.

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      Dave

      Thanks MV,

      A good article by Manufacturing Australia:

      “Beginning in 2015, gas reserves on Australia’s East Coast will be opened up to export, with no safeguards in place to ensure reliable and affordable gas remains available for domestic industry.

      A handful of multinational oil and gas consortia will control the vast majority of gas reserves on Australia’s East Coast and have unrestricted rights to export it.

      ustralia is the only gas-rich country in the world that does not make sure there is enough gas available for local industry and households. Alarmingly, unlike their counterparts in most of the world, Australia’s Federal Government and State Governments on the East Coast don’t think there is a role for Government in safeguarding domestic gas supply.

      Australia’s energy advantage is ours to lose and fixing this issue quickly is now a national emergency.”

      It also seems that both ALP & Coalition both support an “export first” policy in regards to gas. There was no political debate in the recent elections on domestic energy security for Australia at all.

      There should be a percentage of production from all new gas projects allocated to cater for domestic use.

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      MemoryVault,

      Thanks for this link.

      I’ve taken notice every time you mention the lack of gas for large scale power generation, and keep in mind here that where I say large scale gas fired plants, I’m talking (up to almost) 50 to 75 Million MCF of natural gas a year for a large scale power plant, less for a CCGT plant, but still, a significant amount of NG.

      To put that into perspective, this Ichthys plant in the NT will produce 8.4 million tonnes of NG each year. Using the conversion factors here, this means that just ONE large scale NG plant would use anything up to 15 to 20% of this field’s total yearly output. That’s by the by, as all of it is slated for export.

      What that now brings into play is the proposed Upgrades for both Bayswater and for Mt. Piper.

      There were 2 submissions for both, one utilising CCGT and burning NG, and the second utilising new technology USC coal fired generation.

      This distinct lack of a constant reliable and huge supply of NG now makes the coal fired option look so much better, even more so, considering that if the CCGT option was the one that got approved, then they would need to construct a monster pipeline from the field to the power plant itself.

      Let’s hope that a decision on these Upgrades will now move forward.

      Tony.

      PostScript: MCF = 1000 Cubic Feet, and 48.7 MCF of NG weighs 1 Tonne.

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    Ian Bryce

    Jo, a good post. There is much angst in the world how we will feed a 50% increase in the world population by 2050. This is one of the methods that must be researched further. It is being explored in the tomato industry as well. There are seed companies that are looking at attaching mycorrhiza to their seeds, to improve the yields of grain crops etc. The fibres help to increase the flow of nutrients etc into the plant. They do far more work than the roots actually do in growing the plant. The microbial level of our soils is an area that requires vast research. Some of the chemicals that are used to kill weeds such as metham will reduce these important microbes.

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    Mark D.

    Fungi, not insects, will inherit the earth. One only needs a good sense of smell to know how pervasive and productive fungi and molds are in the world. Take a walk in a forest or woodland after a gentle rain and smell what is going on.

    The study of these living bodies needs much more attention. Human health is affected both positively and negatively by them. Research into mycotoxins is in infancy (IMHO) and we’ll all benefit greatly with more time and effort spent there.

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    UzUrBrain

    What are they teaching these days in school/college? I was taught about this 50 years ago!

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