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Before fungi could break down trees?


alan2here
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I heard recently on the BBC about a period of time after trees but before fungi were able to break down wood. Apparently this meant that a lot of carbon ended up stored in the wood of dead trees that wouldn't get broken down, insects became very big during this period too due to the high carbon atmosphere.

 

Does this mean that there were mountains of wood laying around, trees would die and just lay there? If so is this self balencing due to eventually no light being able to get to the soil below?

Edited by alan2here
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I heard recently on the BBC about a period of time after trees but before fungi were able to break down wood. Apparently this meant that a lot of carbon ended up stored in the wood of dead trees that wouldn't get broken down, insects became very big during this period too due to the high carbon atmosphere.

 

Does this mean that there were mountains of wood laying around, trees would die and just lay there? If so is this self balencing due to eventually no light being able to get to the soil below?

 

 

I think I'd have to see some evidence of this assertion, there is considerable evidence that fungi predate trees and green plants in general. Also the idea that only fungi could decompose wood needs some support as well.

Edited by Moontanman
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According to the program fungi existed before woody plants like trees but at that time couldn't break down wood. I was wondering about mold too.

First of all: Molds are fungi.

 

I would think that it is very strange if trees can grow, but not decompose at all. The carbon recycle is so quick that without plants decomposing, the whole system would probably reach a dead end in a couple thousand years, because all the earth's carbon would be locked up in dead trees. And that's not very long in the big picture.

 

That said, wikipedia mentions something similar about the Carboniferous period:

 

The large coal deposits of the Carboniferous primarily owe their existence to two factors. The first of these is the appearance of bark-bearing trees (and in particular the evolution of the bark fiber lignin). The second is the lower sea levels that occurred during the Carboniferous as compared to the Devonian period. This allowed for the development of extensive lowland swamps and forests in North America and Europe. Some[who?] hypothesize that large quantities of wood were buried during this period because animals and decomposing bacteria had not yet evolved that could effectively digest the new lignin.

 

Wikipedia itself provides no further reference for this remark, so we should take it as it is: a remark.

 

If there is any truth to this, somehow, dead trees (including the lignin in the bark) should be turned back into CO2. It is also theorized that there were more wildfires (also due to the increase in oxygen because more carbon was locked up in wood).

But if plants would not be eaten at all, the forest fires would soon be required to convert nearly all carbon back into CO2. It's just very unlikely I think.

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