The New York Times Magazine – Trees appear to communicate and cooperate through subterranean networks of fungi. What are they sharing with one another? “…Now a professor of forest ecology at the University of British Columbia, Suzanne Simard, who is 60, has studied webs of root and fungi in the Arctic, temperate and coastal forests of North America for nearly three decades. Her initial inklings about the importance of mycorrhizal networks were prescient, inspiring whole new lines of research that ultimately overturned longstanding misconceptions about forest ecosystems. By analyzing the DNA in root tips and tracing the movement of molecules through underground conduits, Simard has discovered that fungal threads link nearly every tree in a forest — even trees of different species. Carbon, water, nutrients, alarm signals and hormones can pass from tree to tree through these subterranean circuits. Resources tend to flow from the oldest and biggest trees to the youngest and smallest. Chemical alarm signals generated by one tree prepare nearby trees for danger. Seedlings severed from the forest’s underground lifelines are much more likely to die than their networked counterparts. And if a tree is on the brink of death, it sometimes bequeaths a substantial share of its carbon to its neighbors. Although Simard’s peers were skeptical and sometimes even disparaging of her early work, they now generally regard her as one of the most rigorous and innovative scientists studying plant communication and behavior…”
Sorry, comments are closed for this post.