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Study: Fungi could be vital for reaching climate goals

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Underneath the ground, intricate fungal networks are working together with plants to absorb massive amounts of carbon — equivalent to more than a third of the world’s annual fossil fuel emissions, according to a new study.

Until now, fungi have been a blind spot in carbon modeling and conservation efforts. This study is the first to quantify the amount of carbon that plants pull out of the atmosphere and subsequently send to certain types of fungi known as mycorrhizal fungi.

“The potential for these fungi to keep climate-warming carbon out of the atmosphere and in the soil is huge — and may play a bigger role in the carbon cycle than we anticipated,” said Heidi Hawkins, the study’s lead author and a scientist with Conservation South Africa, an affiliate of Conservation International.

Mycorrhizal fungi form vast underground networks found in
on every continent of Earth, from forests to grasslands to croplands. These fungi, both living and after they die, form a part of soil organic matter and play an essential role in the soil’s ability to
retain carbon

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