Plants communicate with infochemicals on fungal networks

Signal of change / Plants communicate with infochemicals on fungal networks

By Anna Simpson / 24 Apr 2017
Plant science researchers have found that underground threads of fungus, known as mycelium, act as a sort of internet for plants, enabling chemical messages to be shared across complex networks. These fungal networks also serve to share nutrients, exchange carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus, boost immune systems and defend against toxic neighbours, through the release of chemicals.

So what?

Suzanne Simard of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver believes trees develop mutually beneficial communities in this way. Of course, networks always open up risks too - comparable to cyber security concerns. These fungal communication networks show that plants build their resilience in informal, self-organising ways - beyond the more rigid arteries of roots. How might organisations and human systems learn from this, as we transition from hierarchical structures to distributed, interactive forms of exchange?

Sources

http://www.bbc.co.uk/earth/story/20141111-plants-have-a-hidden-internet http://www.cell.com/trends/plant-science/abstract/S1360-1385(12)00133-1

What might the implications of this be? What related signals of change have you seen?

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