Kew to explore the role of DNA technology in restoring damaged habitats
Scientists at Kew are looking into the use of DNA technology to help analyse and restore areas of land that have been harmed or destroyed. This is part of Kew's new research programme in restoration ecology that will reach around the world.
15 Apr 2010
Close-up of the fungal network associated with the roots of a pine seedling (image on its side).
You need to bring the right fungi together with the right plant to achieve the successful re-introduction of plant life to areas of land that have been harmed or destroyed.Robyn Cowan, Kew
Restoring damaged habitats is becoming ever more important in today's world.
Disturbed ecosystem services such as nutrient and water cycling in degraded habitats (e.g. mine lands and deforested areas) are a barrier to achieving international goals to reduce poverty, hunger and disease.
DNA technology is helping plant scientists and conservationists at Kew to identify the types of fungi present in the soil of different areas and habitats. Robyn Cowan, a conservation genetics specialist at Kew, thinks that gaining more knowledge about fungi is an important part of habitat restoration, because without fungi many plants are unable to grow.
According to Martin Bidartondo, a fungi expert at Kew, one of the major challenges facing plant scientists and conservationists today is identifying the most appropriate fungal species to introduce in different habitat restoration projects. This is because the fungi can be almost impossible to identify when they are not in fruit.
However, DNA technology can help scientists identify species of fungi more accurately from environmental samples such as roots. It provides a potential solution for identifying the right species of fungi to use in different habitat restoration projects.
This important relationship between plants and fungi is an exciting area of research at Kew. We are working to find out more about this mysterious but crucial area of botany.
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Scientific Research & Data
- A leap forward in geographic scale for forest ectomycorrhizal fungi (pdf) by Filipa Cox, Nadia Barsoum, Martin I. Bidartondo, Isabella Børja, Erik Lilleskov, Lars O. Nilsson, Pasi Rautio, Kath Tubby, Lars Vesterdal
- Closing the mycorrhizal DNA sequence gap (pdf) by Martin I. Bidartondoa, Golsa Ameria, Heidi Döring - Mycological Research 113 (2009) 1025-1026
- How to know unknown fungi: the role of a herbarium (pdf) by Patrick M. Brock, Heidi Döring and Martin I. Bidartondo
- Waiting for fungi: the ectomycorrhizal invasion of lowland heathlands (pdf) by Fay A. Collier* and Martin I. Bidartondo - Journal of Ecology 2009, 97, 950–963
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