"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Fungal-rich soil can improve green roofs.

Green roofs have grow to be increasingly popular as a result of their advantages in climate adaptation, mitigation, and concrete biodiversity management.

These vegetated surfaces on constructing roofs absorb excess stormwater, reduce energy use by insulating buildings, and funky neighborhoods, intensifying urban heat islands, while protecting plants, pollinators, and wildlife. They also construct urban residences.

But, within the U.S., green roofs are typically planted with non-native plants in sterile soil, and their effectiveness declines over time.

A Dartmouth-led research team set out to find out whether managing soil microbes with green roofs could promote healthy urban soil growth, a mechanism that might improve climate resilience in cities. could be applied to support

The team created an experimental green roof in Chicago to check how augmenting soil with native prairie microbes would change the soil's microbial community over time. They were particularly excited by detecting the presence of useful mycorrhizal fungi.

Mycorrhizal fungi are known to live in roots and support plants in a symbiotic underground relationship, providing them with nutrients and water in exchange for plant sugars. Mycorrhizal fungi could be especially helpful for green roof plants that should tolerate high temperatures, strong sunlight and intermittent flooding.

The researchers added soil wealthy in native mycorrhizal fungi, generally known as “inoculum,” obtained from an area restored prairie to an experimental green roof soil. They planted inoculated and untreated soil with native prairie plants and green roof succulents. Over the course of two years, the team tracked changes within the green roof's mycorrhizal fungal community. They also compared green roof fungal species present within the inoculum and within the air.

Their results show that lively management of green roof mycorrhizal fungi accelerates soil growth in comparison with if mycorrhizal fungal communities are passively left to re-establish on their very own. Green roofs treated with mycorrhizal fungi foster a more diverse soil community that supports long-term green roof sustainability, based on findings published in

“In this urban canopy setting, we saw greater diversity in inoculated soil fungal communities,” said lead creator Paul Metzler, soil ecology lab manager in Dartmouth's Department of Environmental Studies. “The long-term and persistent effects of the inoculum were quite surprising, as it is not necessarily what you would expect when working with such small microorganisms.”

Using a molecular technique called “DNA metabarcoding,” which enables the identification of multiple organisms in a single sample, the researchers were capable of discover the fungi present within the green roof soil in addition to the potential sources of those fungi. are Many fungi have come from the inoculum while other species have arrived by one other vector similar to air.

The co-authors say their study differed from most of its kind, as few studies track mycorrhizal community changes over time after inoculation and even fewer try to discover sources of species pools. Track the The team also had several species of their green roof that were likely introduced by extinct vectors similar to birds, insects or rodents.

Still, essentially the most diverse fungal communities were those treated with the inoculum, illustrating how mycorrhizal fungi could be used to enhance soil health in green roofs. The results suggest that lively management of soil microbial communities is efficient and well worth the effort and resources in cities.

“Green roofs have a shelf life and are not always the self-sustaining ecosystems we think they are,” says senior creator Bala Chaudhry, an associate professor of environmental sciences at Dartmouth. “They can be beneficial to urban areas but lose their utility over time.”

While green roofs are marketed as “set it and forget it,” the co-authors explain that environmental considerations have to be incorporated into their design, construction and maintenance to maximise these advantages and character. More than that, green roofs can contribute to the climate resilience of urban areas. .

“Our cities can be a window to the future,” says Chowdhury. “They are experiencing the effects of climate change — rising temperatures and droughts and floods — at a faster rate, forcing them underground. makes a great microcosm to study some of the effects from.”