Mushrooms cover a third of global CO2 emissions: study

Scientific editorial office (EFE) – The soil fungi They store a third of the world’s CO2 emissions from burning fossil fuels, a discovery that reveals these organisms are key to neutralizing the gases that cause climate change and achieving the desired ‘net zero’ balance.

Goal “net zero” The United Nations means reducing greenhouse gas emissions until they are as close to zero as possible, with the rest reabsorbed by oceans and forests.

A study led by scientists from University of Sheffield (England) and published in the journal Current Biology, states that mycorrhizal fungi (those that form symbiotic associations with plants) trap up to 36% of global fossil fuel emissions underground (about 13 gigatons), more than what China emits in one year.

A huge underground and global network

For at least 450 million years, fungi have formed vast underground networks beneath the soil of lawns, forests, roads, gardens or houses and play a key role not only in storing carbon and keeping the planet cooler, but also biodiversity.

Until now, it was known that, thanks to their symbiotic relationship with almost all plants, fungi can store carbon, but it was not known how much carbon they can capture.

Following the publication of the study data, the authors asked policy makers to consider the value of these organisms in policies and actions to conserve and protect biodiversity.

The UN estimates that at the current rate, 90% of the soil could be degraded by 2050, which is catastrophic not only for stop climate change and rising temperatures, but also for the productivity of crops and plants.

As Katie Field, professor of plant and soil processes at the University of Sheffield and co-author of the study, explains, ” mycorrhizal fungi are a blind spot in carbon modeling, conservation and restoration, but the numbers we found are staggering.”

The role of fungi in ecosystems

“Soil ecosystems are being destroyed at an alarming rate agriculturedevelopment and other industries, but the broader effects of altering soil communities are poorly understood” and thereby “sabotaging our efforts to limit global warming and undermining the ecosystems we depend on.”

Therefore, emphasizes Field, “more must be done to protect these underground networks: we knew they were essential for biodiversity, but now we have evidence that they are critical to the health of our planet.”

Researchers are now studying how long they keep carbon soil fungi, with continued analysis of the role fungi play in Earth’s ecosystems.

For Toby Kiers, lead author at the Vrije University in Amsterdam and co-founder of the Society for the Protection of Underground Networks, “this study is part of a global effort to understand the role fungi play in Earth’s ecosystems.”

“Mycorrhizal fungi are found in the bottom food webs They support much of life on Earth, but we’re just beginning to understand how they really work. We still have a lot to learn,” he warns.

Photo: EFE/ University of Sheffield (England)

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