The Atlantic reports on green roof research by Barnard biology professor Krista McGuire and colleagues at Columbia, Fordham, and the University of Colorado that was recently published in the journal PLOS ONE. An excerpt from the Atlantic article:

"Using soil corers, they hunted for fungi, because fungal communities play a key role in a roof garden's health and longevity. For comparison's sake, they also took samples from five city parks near some of the roofs, including Central Park and the High Line. A little magic from "[i]nductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectroscopy" at Alabama's Auburn University Soil Testing Laboratory, as well as a dollop of phospholipid fatty-acid extraction and Illumina-dye sequencing, and they had their results, which were published this month in the journal PLOS ONE.

So what were the conclusions? For one, these sun-kissed carpets of gray goldenrod and smooth blue aster are absolutely crawling with fungi. The researchers logged an average of 109 types of fungi per roof, such as Glomus, Acaulospora, Rhizophagus and Funneliformis, suggesting that green roofs can indeed contribute to urban biodiversity."

Read the full article. Also watch Green Roofs: Classrooms in the sky, a video about students and faculty using Barnard's Sibyl Levy Golden '38 Ecological Learning Center and similar spaces around the city for research.

Prof. McGuire studies the role of fungi in critical environmental issues such as global climate change, plant extinction, and deforestation.