Are Trees Talking Underground? For Scientists, It’s in Dispute.

From Ted Lasso to TED Talks, the theory of the “wood-wide web” is everywhere, and some scientists argue that it is overblown and unproven. However, because the wood-wide net has gained fame, it has additionally impressed a backlash…

Gabriel Popkin in The New York Times: Justine Karst, a mycologist at the University of Alberta, feared things had gone too far when her son got home from eighth grade and told her he had learned that trees could talk to each other through underground networks. Her colleague, Jason Hoeksema of the University of Mississippi, had a similar feeling when watching an episode of “Ted Lasso” in which one soccer coach told another that trees in a forest cooperated rather than competed for resources.

Few recent scientific discoveries have captured the public’s imagination quite like the wood-wide web — a wispy network of fungal filaments hypothesized to shuttle nutrients and information through the soil and to help forests thrive. The idea sprouted in the late 1990s from studies showing that sugars and nutrients can flow underground between trees. In a few forests, researchers have traced fungi from the roots of one tree to those of others, suggesting that mycelial threads could be providing conduits between trees. These findings have challenged the conventional view of forests as a mere population of trees: Trees and fungi are, in fact, coequal players on the ecological stage, scientists say. Without both, forests as we know them wouldn’t exist.

Scientists and nonscientists alike have drawn grand and sweeping conclusions from this analysis. They’ve posited that shared fungal networks are ubiquitous in forests around the globe, that they assist timber discuss to one another and, as Coach Beard on “Ted Lasso” articulated, that they make forests essentially cooperative locations, with timber and fungi united in frequent objective — a dramatic departure from the same old Darwinian image of interspecies competitors. The idea has been featured in quite a few media studies, TV exhibits and bestselling books, together with a Pulitzer Prize winner. It even exhibits up in “Avatar,” the highest-grossing film of all time.

And the speculation might be beginning to affect what occurs in actual forests. Some scientists, for instance, have prompt managing forests explicitly to guard fungal networks.

However, because the wood-wide net has gained fame, it has additionally impressed a backlash amongst scientists. In a current evaluate of printed analysis, Karst, Hoeksema and Melanie Jones, a biologist on the College of British Columbia, Okanagan, discovered little proof that shared fungal networks assist timber to speak, swap sources or thrive. Certainly, the trio mentioned, scientists have but to indicate that these webs are widespread or ecologically vital in forests. More here…

Honorary contributors to Adil Khan, Ajaz Ahmed, Anwar Abbas, Arif Mirza, Aziz Ahmed, Bawar Tawfik, Dr. Razzak Ladha, Dr. Syed M. Ali, G. R. Baloch, Haseeb Warsi, Hasham Saddique, Jamil Usman, Javed Abbasi, Jawed Ahmed, Ishaq Saqi, Khalid Sharif, Majid Ahmed, Masroor Ali, Md. Ahmed, Md. Najibullah, Mushtaq Siddiqui,, Mustafa Jivanjee, Nusrat Jamshed, Shahbaz Ali, Shahid Hamza, Shahid Nayeem, Shareer Alam, Syed Ali Ammaar Jafrey, Syed Hamza Gilani, Shaheer Alam, Syed Hasan Javed, Syed M. Ali, Tahir Sohail, Talha Alam, Tariq Chaudhry, Usman Nazir, Yasir Raza