Monday, July 23, 2012

Wood Fungi & Global Warming

Wood Fungi that changed the world.
They even call it the carboniferous age: that was when coal formed in the earth. Then, for some reason it stopped. I have always wondered why, and the climatological explanations never made sense.

Now we know the real reason, it is because fungi evolved a pathway to digest lignin; lignin the inscrutable phenolic component of wood that holds the cellulose together. One species of fungus, Agaricomycetes, evolved a method for digesting lignin, and that ended the new creation of coal. 

Researchers at Clark University and DOE looked at fungal DNA from 31 species of white rot fungus, and then traced back the evolution to the end of the carboniferous period using an assumed model of genetic divergence, and derived 250 million years ago -- matching what is found geologically.

So this little microscopic fungus changed the world

Geo-engineering and global warming

A geo-engineering fix for global warming would be to capture all the atmospheric CO2 -- as trees to, and then lock up so it won't decay and re-enter the atmosphere. The problem is that trees decay. If they did not, then problem solved. That is, we could bury wood underground and entrap all the CO2 that we are releasing elsewhere, but we can't wood fungi makes the wood decay -- back to CO2.