When we visit a forest, we notice that the trees are spaced apart in some way. They all seem to be separate organisms. The findings of the experts revealed that this appearance is actually misleading. because it was discovered that trees could speak to one another underground.
The communication between the trees is provided by a particular sort of fungus that develops around the roots. The extensions of this fungus species penetrate the tree’s roots and extend several meters beyond them to the roots of adjacent plants. As a result, multiple trees in the same region can communicate with one another thanks to the formation of a mushroom network. In terms of how it works, this network can be compared to the internet.
The discovery of this underground network prompts additional thoughts on the interchange of plants. Plants are more than only organisms that silently flourish where they are. Through the cork network, trees may communicate with one another and exchange information and nutrients. But the mushroom network can also be exploited, just as the internet can be used for bad intentions. For instance, some plant species release poisonous substances into the web in an effort to annihilate the nearby plants. When this web releases poisonous compounds, plants perish.
Approximately 90% of terrestrial plants interact well with fungus. German researcher Albert Bernard Frank used the term “root fungi” in the 19th century to describe fungi that gather in colonies around plant roots.
Plants give fungi in mycorrhizal connections carbohydrates. In return, fungi aid the plant in absorbing water and deliver nutrients like phosphorus and nitrogen to the plant via their appendages. This link has been known to aid plant growth since the 1960s.
The immune system of the plant is also strengthened by mushroom net. because the fungi that reside in colonies surrounding plant roots stimulate the plant to generate compounds that are related to defense. As a result, the immune system can react to an attack more swiftly and successfully. Simply said, plants become more resistant to illnesses when they are in contact with the fungus network.
In 1997, the mushroom web’s entire complexity emerged. The first indication of how the mushroom network works was discovered by Suzanne Simard of the University of British Columbia. Native to North America, Douglas fir and paper birch demonstrated how they exchanged carbon through fungal appendages. Additionally, the same process was used for the exchange of nitrogen and phosphate between plants.
Simard thought that utilizing the cork net, older trees could assist younger trees. Many believed that the exile would not have survived without this assistance. The 1997 study found that the shoots closest to other trees absorbed more carbon than the other shoots.
Simard suggested that plants cooperate with one another to live, as opposed to competing in a way that only the strongest survive, as Darwin theorized, in an interview for a documentary in 2011. However, the value of this nutrient translocation is up for debate.
As their investigation went on, the researchers established that fungi-associated plants prosper more. In 2010, Ren Sen Zeng’s team at South China University discovered that plants produce chemical signals to inform their neighbors when they are attacked by hazardous fungi.
The group led by Ren Sen Zeng raised tomato plants in pots in pairs. It was permitted for some of the plants to associate with fungi. One of the plants that were grown in pots in pairs had a dangerous fungus applied to its leaf. The plants with the mushroom net were seen to sustain less damage than the others. Similar outcomes were reached by researchers at the University of Aberdeen using the identical bean plant experiment. In this instance, the mushroom net offered both protection and nutrition exchange.
Similar to how people’s use of the internet can infect computers, the mushroom network also has a negative aspect. A white orchid species, for instance, which lacks chlorophyll and is unable to photosynthesize and make its own food, borrows carbon from other plants by connecting to this network.
When it comes to resources like light and water, plants compete with their neighbors. They discharge poisons during this race that hurt the other participants. The black walnut tree is the best illustration of this circumstance. This particular tree species neutralizes other nearby plant species by secreting a substance from its roots known as jugalone. However, because the soil absorbs them and the soil bacteria break down the harmful compounds, the toxic substances generated by the tree roots cannot go very far. As a result, the neighbors of the tree that secretes the toxin are the ones that are most affected.
Communication between various plant species is made possible by the mushroom network quickly and efficiently. When trees are seen in a forest separately from one another, communication between them is impossible to understand. The trees appeared to be autonomous, but the network of underground mushrooms showed that they were far more intimately related. Future tree protection will benefit from a deeper comprehension of the relationships and behaviors among trees.