The world’s forests may soon experience a growth boom in light of the recent discovery that bacteria living in mosses on tree branches are twice as effective at ‘fixing’ nitrogen as those on the ground.
The Department of Biology at McGill University was the site of a new study. Headed by Dr. Zoe Lindo, a post-doctoral fellow and Jonathan Whiteley, a doctoral student, the study concluded that ancient trees are still very much a part of the cycle of life and may be the catalyst (or at least one of them) that generates forest growth.
The findings suggest that it is the combination of the mosses and cyanobacteria that cause the dynamic that sustains forest productivity by taking oxygen from the atmosphere and creating a process known as “nitrogen fixation.” The study clearly accentuates the importance of nurturing older growth especially in the coastal temperate rainforests found from Southern Alaska to Northern California.
The old trees are an indirect link to new growth, creating a process that works like a domino effect. Until this study, the cyanobacteria have been a mystery and had never really been studied before. Lindo collected mosses from the forest floor and also at 15 and 30 meters up into the forest canopy, and was able to prove that mosses located high above the ground fix twice as much oxygen than those found on the forest floor.
This may prove to be wonderful news for the treatment of the vanishing rain forests of the world and other areas where forests have been decimated by the wrath of Mother Nature.
Hope for the forests means hope for tomorrow and long range plans for planet Earth.