Responsicle to From Tree to Shining Tree

I recently heard the podcast episode From Tree to Shining Tree. Great episode! Understanding how the trees in a forest are connected via a deep network of fungi that exchange nutrients and send chemical signals is mind-blowing.

As an armchair evolutionist, I wanted to offer one possible answer for whether the fungus or the tree allocates nutrients from a dying tree to a new tree.

It’s the fungus.

From an evolutionary perspective, organisms survive when their prioritize their genetic reproduction. From this perspective, a tree has no incentive to pass its nutrients to a tree of another species.

Another clue offered was that the newer, more viable trees get nutrients from dying or climate change vulnerable trees. The collective fungus, perhaps genetically indistinguishable within a forest, survives better when viable trees are prioritized over dying ones. Via a long-term chemical ‘contract’, the fungus and trees can create a pact allowing the fungus to raid the nutrients of dying trees in exchange for receiving a steady supply of nutrients while the trees are healthy.

Similarly, it could be the fungi that are controlling the chemical ‘messages’of trees that are injured or pest-infested. Detecting the presence of an infestation or other injury, the fungus could then alert other trees (and trigger the bad-tasting defenses) to help them prevent a similar fate. It’s in the fungi’s best interest to keep as many trees as healthy as a possible, and the fungi would have no reason to prioritize one species or tree over another.


About Kia R. Davis

Strategist. Author. Blogger. Armchair intellectual. Fintech thinker. Backseat economist. Evolutionary psychologist wannabe. Entrepreneur's fairy godmother. Ecosystem developer.
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