Wood Wide Web

by Rajshri Ravichandran

Trees, from the massive redwoods to the delicate dogwoods, cannot exist without their microbial companions. A large, linked network of organisms called fungi and bacteria, numbering in the millions, exchange nourishment between soil and tree roots throughout the forest. Currently, using data of much more than 28,000 species of trees found in more than 70 nations, scientists have for the first time defined this “wood wide network” on a worldwide scale.

Source: One Earth

This global map of the fungi living beneath the soil reveals how the world’s ecosystems function, just like an MRI scan of the brain reveals how the brain functions. What we discover is that particular kinds of microbes inhabit particular regions of the globe, and by comprehending this, we can determine how to repair various ecosystems and understand how the climate is changing.

As trees undergo photosynthesis, they transfer carbohydrates into the earth, giving the structure underneath energy. To ensure that nutrients are supplied fairly throughout the area, the subterranean microbes link each plant in exchange. Key information on all species on our planet is provided by this finding, which gave rise to the term “world wide web”.

Source: GoldBio

Arbuscular mycorrhizal networks and ectomycorrhizal networks are two different kinds of networks that connect various kinds of plants and fungi. The ectomycorrhizal (EM) fungi, which create extensive underground networks, are found around the roots of oak and pine trees, for instance. The arbuscular mycorrhizae (AM), on the other hand, burrow directly into the cells of trees’ roots and are preferred by maple and cedar trees. The cooler areas (North America, Europe, and portions of Asia), where organic matter decomposes slowly, are dominated by network-building EM fungus. However, AM fungi, which typically construct smaller webs and engage in less inter-tree trade, are dominant in the warmer tropical woods.

Source: European Scientist

Due to trees’ ability to warn nearby neighbors of impending risks, the wood wide web is essential for preserving tree health under adverse situations. A network of trees can communicate with one another to alert one another to potential danger before releasing hormones and substances to defend themselves against environmental tensions like predators, pollutants, or pathogenic bacteria. The survival of life on Earth depends heavily on trees. By absorbing carbon dioxide, which warms the globe, they create clean oxygen that we can breathe.

With the assistance of the wood wide network, trees can cooperate to withstand droughts, deforestation, and increasing temperatures.


Published by LakesOfIndia

Lakes of India is an E.F.I initiative aimed at sensitizing the larger public on freshwater habitats across the country. A blog platform where one can read about lakes across India. You can become a guest blogger to write about a lake in your hometown and initiate an action to protect that lake.

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