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Volume 569 Issue 7756, 16 May 2019

Tree dimensions

Root-associated microbial symbionts have a strong influence over the way forest ecosystems function. The identity of the symbionts can help determine how easily trees access nutrients, sequester carbon or withstand the effects of climate change. In this week’s issue, Brian Steidinger and his colleagues present a global map of the symbiotic status of the world’s forests, drawn from a database of more than 1.1 million forest inventory plots and featuring some 28,000 species of tree. They find that there are sharp transitions between the dominant types of symbiosis, and that these transitions are largely driven by climatically controlled decomposition rates.

Cover image: Miroslav Svoboda

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