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Trees Talk Through an Ancient ‘Otherworld’ Network

Trees Talk Through an Ancient ‘Otherworld’ Network

WWW is an immensely popular abbreviation in the current world. But the trees are giving a very interesting turn to the concept of WWW. 

According to ancient beliefs, trees can talk among themselves. But the entire process is seemingly new to the science world, as it is still exploring this. Deep under the layers of dirt and mud, trees talk to each other. Scientists are now confirming that the forest might be one huge superorganism. The trees are connected through fungal highways beneath the layers of mud and dirt. But what is even more surprising is that the trees do not only talk among themselves. They even communicate with other species, which is believed to help to reduce the selfish competition among them. 

The Wood-Wide Web

Around 600 million years ago, symbiotic relationships developed between funguses and plants. It is called mycorrhiza. The word for fungus and root comes from Greek.

This is how it functions: Fungi provide the trees with minerals, nutrients, and a communication network in exchange for the sugars and carbon produced by the plants.

The mycorrhizal network spreads throughout the forest similar to an internet connection. Fungal hyphae threads create a road and blend with tree roots. Once the network is created, items such as sugars, nitrogen, phosphorous, water, carbon, hormones are then sent and received. 

Hundreds of other trees can connect to one tree and send out signals. Through these fungi and tree roots, bacteria and other microbes swap nutrients.

This “Wood Wide Web” was first mapped globally by scientists in 2019. The first global map of a mycorrhizal fungal network has since been produced in an international study. It could, most importantly, be the Earth’s oldest and most important social network.

Community dependency

Connected trees, therefore, have a clear advantage and resilience. However, it becomes vulnerable if you cut a tree off from the network. They are often much more likely to succumb to the disease.

Unfortunately, this complex ecosystem is demolished by practices such as clear-cutting or forest replacement of a single species. Trees not taping into the community network are vulnerable to disease and bugs. This makes harvesting unsustainable.

Ancient beliefs surrounding the concept

Scientists are now able to confirm that trees communicate socially. The idea is not new, however. For instance, the Pacific Northwest people, known as the Tsimshian, have known for centuries that life in the forests is connected.

Although there is still a lot to discover, the idea of trees having a language and way of communication of their own is indeed thrilling in itself. Isn’t it?

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