Can trees really talk through fungus under the ground?


Science News Desk – Trees have life, it was believed from centuries ago. But it took a long time to prove it scientifically. There are many similar beliefs that have not yet been proven, but are popular and many people think they have been scientifically proven as well. A new study analyzes one such belief that trees in the forest talk to each other and that their communication medium is a system of fungal filaments underground. The study states that this has not yet been proven.

The concept sounds strange but fascinating and has been discussed in the media and public and even mentioned on the popular Apple TV show Ted Lasso. But expert Justin Karst of the University of Alberta cautions that the science behind all this is not yet proven. This peer-reviewed article is published on February 13 in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution. In it, Karst and his colleagues offer their thoughts on popular claims about subterranean fungi. These capabilities of fungi below ground are called common mycorrhizal networks, or CMNs. It is said about them that they keep the roots together.

Karst is an associate professor in the Faculty of Agricultural, Life and Environmental Sciences at the University of Alberta. He says it’s great that research on CMN has fueled interest in the wild fungus, but it’s also important that people understand that many popular ideas about it outpace the science. Interestingly, the existence of CMN is not supported by scientific evidence. have been empirically proven, but the researchers clarified that there is no strong evidence that they provide any benefit to trees or their plants. To test this claim, Karst and his colleagues did this research.

Karst and his co-authors, Melanie Jones of the University of British Columbia, Okanagan, and Jason Hoeksema of the University of Mississippi, reviewed the evidence from field studies and found that there is sufficient evidence to support the widespread occurrence of CMN in forests. Neither their structure nor their functions are known, but scientists agree that too few forests have been investigated. Another claim is that adult trees feed on seedlings through CMN. and other resources and they are helpful for their survival and development. Researchers could not find anything authentic on this. In a review of 26 studies, including one co-authored by Karst himself, researchers found that CMNs do not play a role in where resources move from below the ground into trees.

They also observed that trees and plants do not benefit from access to CMN. However, no evidence has been found to support the claim that trees act as a means of broadcasting warnings such as insect threats via CMN. The researchers believe that misconceptions about the science can not only lead to errors in making policies about forests, but also make their management problematic.

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