Coffee Hour: Mycorrhizal fungi in global climate models?

Friday, September 11, 2015 - 3:30pm
Refreshments are offered in 319 Walker Building at 3:30 p.m. The lecture begins in 112 Walker Building at 4:00 p.m.


About the talk

Accurate projections of the future land carbon sink by global climate models depend on how they represent nutrient constraints on primary production. While empirical research has highlighted the rhizosphere (i.e., the area immediately surrounding roots) as a hotspot for the trading of carbon for soil nitrogen and phosphorus between roots, mycorrhizal fungi, and free-living microbes, these important carbon costs and nutrient benefits to plants are missing in the models. Here, I will explore recent efforts to integrate root and mycorrhizal processes into models. First, I will make the case for including mycorrhizae in models by showing where the models fail. Second, I will highlight recent advances we have made to the Fixation and Uptake of Nutrients (FUN) model to predict the amount of carbon allocated into the rhizosphere and the nutrient return on this investment. Finally, I will discuss the critical data collection and modeling efforts needed to continue advancing belowground representations in models.

About the speaker

Eddie BrzostekEddie Brzostek is an assistant professor of biology at West Virginia University in Morgantown, West Virginia. Brzostek’s research seeks to understand how interactions between plants and soil microbes influence carbon and nutrient cycling in terrestrial ecosystems, and how these interactions will impact ecosystem responses to global change. To do this, Brzostek integrates observations in the field with results from experiments to improve predictive models at the plot and global scale. Prior to his position at West Virginia University, Brzostek was a post-doctoral fellow at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. Brzostek received a Ph.D. in Biology and a B.A. in Earth Science from Boston University.

Suggested reading

  • Brzostek, E.R., J.B. Fisher, and R.P. Phillips. 2014. Modeling the carbon cost of plant nitrogen acquisition: mycorrhizal trade-offs and multi-path resistance uptake improve predictions of retranslocation. JGR-Biogeosciences. 119(8): 1684-1697.
  • Phillips, R.P., E.R. Brzostek, and M.G. Midgley. 2013. The mycorrhizal-associated nutrient economy: a new framework for predicting carbon–nutrient couplings in temperate forests. New Phytologist. 199(1): 41-51.


Angela Rogers

Coffee Hour