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Dallingj

Fungi are at the root of tropical forest diversity–or lack thereof, study finds

University of Illinois plant biology professor James Dalling, graduate student Adriana Corrales and their colleagues found that fungi that associate with tree roots can profoundly influence plant diversity in a tropical forest.

The types of beneficial fungi that associate with tree roots can alter the fate of a patch of tropical forest, boosting plant diversity or, conversely, giving one tree species a distinct advantage over many others, researchers report.

Their study, reported in the journal Ecology Letters, sought to explain a baffling phenomenon in some tropical forests: Small patches of “monodominant forest,” where one species makes up more than 60 percent of the trees, form islands of low diversity in the otherwise highly diverse tropical forest growing all around them.

Read the full article at the Illinois News Bureau


Publication Date: 02/24/2016
Photo credits: L. Brian Stauffer
Editor: Diana Yates