Did you know? Trees can communicate with each other through a network of underground fungi.
It’s formed by an underground group of hyphae (filaments) that form a symbiotic relationship with plant roots. This network is called a mycorrhizal network.
How the mycorrhizal works:
The tiny filaments called hyphae, extend from the roots of trees and other plants into the soil.
Mycorrhizae are symbiotic associations between fungi and plant roots. There are two main types of mycorrhizae: ectomycorrhizae and endomycorrhizae.
Ectomycorrhizae are formed by trees and shrubs, and they form a thick, dense sheath around the root. The hyphae of ectomycorrhizae extend into the soil, where they absorb water and nutrients. The hyphae also release enzymes that break down organic matter in the soil, making nutrients more available to the plant.
Endomycorrhizae are formed by most other plants, and they penetrate the root cells. The hyphae of endomycorrhizae absorb water and nutrients from the soil, and they also transport these resources to other parts of the plant. Endomycorrhizae also produce a variety of compounds that can help to protect the plant from pests and diseases.
The hyphae extend far beyond the reach of the plant’s roots, allowing it to access a larger area of soil for water and nutrients. In return, the plant provides the fungus with carbohydrates.
Mycorrhizal networks play an important role in plant health and survival. are a vital part of healthy ecosystems. They play a role in nutrient cycling, plant succession, and forest resilience.
What does the Mycorrhizal network communicate
The hyphae from different trees can connect to each other, and communicate in a number of ways. For example, they can share nutrients, water, and information about threats such as pests and diseases
They help plants to:
- Acquire water and nutrients from the soil
- Resist disease and pests
- Cope with environmental stress
- Photosynthesize more efficiently
Mycorrhizal networks can also help to improve soil health by:
- Increasing soil aggregation
- Decreasing erosion
- Storing carbon
- Increasing nutrient availability
Additional details about how mycorrhizal networks function
Water and nutrient transport: The hyphae of mycorrhizal fungi have a very large surface area, which allows them to absorb water and nutrients from the soil that would otherwise be unavailable to the plant. The fungi then transport these resources to the plant’s roots.
Defense against pests and diseases: Mycorrhizal fungi produce a variety of compounds that can help to protect plants from pests and diseases. These compounds can act as a barrier to prevent pathogens from entering the plant, or they can kill pathogens that have already entered the plant.
Stress tolerance: Mycorrhizal fungi can help plants to cope with environmental stress, such as drought, heat, and cold. They do this by providing the plant with water and nutrients, and by helping the plant to produce stress-tolerance compounds.
Photosynthesis: Mycorrhizal fungi can help plants to photosynthesize more efficiently. They do this by providing the plant with carbon dioxide, and by helping the plant to transport water and nutrients to the leaves.
Mycorrhizal networks are a fascinating and important part of the natural world. They play a vital role in plant health, ecosystem function, and climate change mitigation.