Stowaway fungi hitch a ride with birds to be with their plant partners

For the first time, scientists have shown that fungal hitchhikers use birds to travel to and colonise new territories with their plant partners. In a study published in New Phytologist, the researchers provide the first evidence that birds don't just carry birds to new places, but their fungal partners too. They found what they were looking for in bird poo. Rubus ulmifol...
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Revealing fungal function

Behind the Cover: New Phytologist 220:4, December 2018 If you went down to the woods this autumn, did you take a moment to have a closer look at the fungi at your feet, to ponder how they could be affected by changes in the way that woodlands are managed? If you didn't, don't worry - that's exactly what New Phytologist Interaction Section Editor, Prof. Francis Martin, has bee...
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Fungi matter: State of the World’s Fungi 2018

Today sees the release of the State of the World’s Fungi 2018. This is the third report from the ambitious and far reaching State of the World’s Plants and Fungi project led by scientists at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, supported by the Sfumato Foundation. The project aims to assess our knowledge of the diversity of plants and fungi on Earth, the challenges and threats they ...
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Better safe than sorry: Soil microbiota puts tomato in a state of alert (+ Italian version)

You can also read this post in Italian – scroll down. You probably know that there are trillions of microorganisms living all over our bodies, especially enjoying our warm and appetising guts. The population of microbes that help our digestion, or simply hang around our bodies, is called the microbiota, and plants have one as well. The plant microbiota is particularly concentr...
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Rethinking fungal ecology?

"… as readers, reviewers, researchers, or editors, we should be prepared to re-think fungal ecology, and describe niches beyond those our respective domains of research predict." When we talk about fungal ecology, we tend to think of a set of disciplines that investigate the distinct ecological roles of fungi. Phytopathology looks for parasitic fungi. Research on mycorrhizae (...
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Partner swapping: a climate change survival strategy

Some species of lichen grow under very different climatic conditions. They are true survival artists. Now new research published in New Phytologist suggests that the secret to their success lies in their willingness to be unfaithful to their algal partners. Lichens are a classic example of symbiosis, in which a species of algae moves in with a fungus and, in exchange for she...
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Katie Field: Underground and overground at ICOM9

In this guest post, Katie Field, researcher in plant-soil interactions and leader of the Field lab at the University of Leeds, UK, reports back from ICOM9, the 9th International Conference on Mycorrhiza, with a round-up of the highlights (and desserts). Mycorrhizal researchers from around the globe converged on the Clarion Congress Hotel in Prague on the 30th July for a week...
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Behind the Cover: New Phytologist 215:4, September 2017

Fungal friend, or foe? In this issue of Behind the Cover, New Phytologist Editor Ian Dickie explains the complicated role of the mushroom gracing the cover of issue 215:4. Amanita muscaria, or fly agaric, is one of the most iconic of fungi: it is the classic mushroom of fairy tales and children's cartoons. Native to the northern hemisphere, it has become a widespread invasi...
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With a little help from my fungus

If you need help defending your tomato plants from pests, enlisting the help of a fungus might not be at the top of your list. But a recent study, published in New Phytologist, has shown that a fungus could actually be an unlikely ally in the greenhouse. Similar to the beneficial microbes that inhabit the human gut, plants can play host to a range of microbes, some of which ...
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From sea to summit: plant colonisation of the land

When plants moved from water onto land, everything changed. Nutrients were scavenged from rocks to form the earliest soils, atmospheric oxygen levels rose dramatically, and plants provided the food that enticed other organisms to expand across the terrestrial world. Building on the success of a meeting in 2010, the New Phytologist Trust organised a multidisciplinary symposiu...
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