An international team led by researchers at The University of Manchester has
discovered why some plants "live fast and die young" whilst others have long
and healthy lives. The study, published in Science Advances, helps in
understanding how plant diversity is maintained, which could help improve
nature conservation, natural habitat restoration, and growing healthier
Through the use of new molecular techniques and existing knowledge of what
different fungi do in soil, the researchers found that some plants harbored
dozens of different harmful fungi in their roots, while others kept harmful
microbes at bay and attracted many beneficial fungi that boost plant health.
They also found that the balance between harmful and beneficial fungi
depended on plant lifestyle, providing an insight into why some plants live
fast but die young while others grow slowly but enjoy a long life.
Lead author Dr. Marina Semchenko from the University's School of Earth and
Environmental Sciences (SEES) said that some plants are slow to grow, but
enjoy long life by cooperating with beneficial fungi, while others grow fast
and are initially successful, but then they are brought down by diseases
caused by harmful fungi.