Bacteria contribute to the proliferation of forest trees


10/06/2011

Researchers in the field of biology have found that bacteria living in mosses on the trees is doubly effective in the process of "fixing" nitrogen than those that live in the ground. A new analysis of Dr. Zoe Lindo (Zoe Lindo) of the Department of Biology at McGill University and a doctoral student Jonathan Uayteli (Jonathan Whiteley) from the same department, shows that large old trees can play an important role in the proliferation of forests.

The information will be of great importance maintain the life of the old large trees in the coastal temperate rain forests that stretch from southern Alaska to northern California. Dr. Lindo information indicates that there is some interaction between old trees, mosses and cyanobacteria, which contributes to nutrient dynamics in a way that can really save the long-term productivity of these forests.

"What we do We place a big old trees in an environment where they are an integral part of what is called a forest" - said Dr. Lindo. "These large old trees are as follows: they provide an environment for something that, in turn, provides an environment for something else, fertilizing the forest. It’s like a domino effect, this indirect effect, but without the first step, without trees, nothing like this could happen. "

This story has three pieces: 1) the large old trees, and 2) mosses that grow along their branches, and 3) a group of bacteria called cyanobacteria, which are associated with mosses. Cyanobacteria take nitrogen from the atmosphere and make it available to plants - a process called "nitrogen fixation" that only a few organisms can do.

It is believed that the growth and development of many forests is limited access of nitrogen. Recently, it was discovered that cyanobacteria that live in mosses on the ground are actively involved in the supply of nitrogen in the Arctic forests, but the action of cyanobacteria in coastal forests or in the crowns of trees (tree tops) has not yet been studied.

Collecting mosses growing on the forest floor, and then the ones that grow in the crowns of forest trees at a height of 15 and 30 meters, Lindo was able to prove both that the cyanobacteria are found in large numbers in mosses high above the ground, and then they are "fixed" twice as much nitrogen as bacteria living on the earth mosses. Moss is an important element. Amount of nitrogen coming from the crown depends on the presence of moss on the trees.

"You need large trees which are old enough to start accumulating mosses and thus contribute to the settlement in these cyanobacteria that are associated with them," - explained Lindo. "Many trees do not start to accumulate mosses until they reach the age of more than 100 years. Thus, the density of crowns of large old trees that are overgrown with moss, is actually crucial for the growth of forests. During the study, we studied the trees, who range in age from 500 to 800 years old. "

Original: Sciencedaily Translation: M. Potter


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