How climate change may threaten soil’s ability to capture carbon

Sunday, May 21, 2023 - 14:32 in Earth & Climate

The leaves of trees and plants have been called the Earth’s lungs because they take in carbon dioxide and give out oxygen. But beneath the soil’s surface, the roots of those plants are doing their bit for regulating the climate, facilitating the storage of carbon in the soil. But small changes in these processes can have considerable effects, as researchers in the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology reveal in a study in Nature Geoscience. Roots release exudates — organic carbon compounds — that interact with bacteria, fungi, and other soil elements to make its nutrients more accessible to the plant. “In its most basic sense, root exudates are materials that get put out into the soil to help the microbial community convert material that’s already in the soil into forms that the root can then take up and use,” explained Benton Taylor, assistant professor in OEB and the study’s senior...

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