One of the things I appreciate most about many of the things you share Richard is that you seemingly fight against the idea of science.
But, looking deeper using critical thinking skills, what you really fight against is the preconceived ideas about generally accepted viewpoints held as fact although they are not “settled science”.
I will note that this article did not outright say there is or is not a benefit to established trees developing a symbiosis with fungi. It may be conjecture or it may be truth, but I have seen reports here about the benefits of mycorrhizae pertaining to faster growth and, generally, better tree health. Based on what I’ve read it seems like a good idea to encourage this relationship, although not necessarily for the reasons mentioned in the article above.
Trees have a communication of sorts through complex processes not widely understood. It is not the language you might think of. Trees attract pollinators such as bees with flowers that contain sweet nectar. Some trees blooms dont smell sweet but rather smell bad attracting flies. Blooms are a bribe of sorts mutually beneficial to the tree and insect. Walnut, cedar, etc. are allopathic to any plant that attempts to grow in their area. Trees prefer fungal soil, but gardens prefer bacterial soil. Bushes such as buffalo berry, autumn berry, goumi are nitrogen fixers. We know these bushes drastically improve soil because of a relationship they have with microbes. There is much to learn.
I think “interactions with nature” is a better phrase for what you are describing. In contrast, the article reviewed above is debunking popular speculations that use the term “communication” in a much more literal sense.
Here is a visual article thst might help someone to see the relationship https://www.nationalforests.org/blog/underground-mycorrhizal-network
That is exactly the speculation that the article debunks.
Thanks a lot Richard, now I have to tell my 12 year-old that his favorite episode of RadioLab has been debunked:
Bacteria and fungi are typically consumed by protozoa and nematodes and the microbial wastes they excrete is ammonia (NH4+) which is plant available nitrogen.
Formation of NH4+ increases as microbial activity increases
I think encouraging microbial activity and soil life seems to be more efficient than ‘nitrogen fixers’.
How to Encourage Beneficial Microorganisms?
Add compost, manure, carbon etc…and they will thrive.
One piece of truth in those two articles is in regard to sequoia groves. Typically there are many trunks above ground but only a few unique individuals because their main method of propagation is by underground root suckers. The seeded cones on sequoias have evolved into a mechanism of self-preservation in case of fire. Artificial propagation of sequoia seeds requires exposing them to temperatures experienced in forest fires. To my knowledge this is not the case with other conifers or other species that compose “forests”. Keep in mind that the latter includes ancestral peach in China.
The article “debunks” is a strong word, more like questions. As do i, but that properly shows the relationship referred to. Question the validity myself it is based on opinions, not scientific proof. They have no science to back up the claims on either side, hence why i said not well understood. Why would a tree take care of other trees? Trees would only if they work as one tree not other varities. Do i believe a tree might not need additional water and it pours it out their roots in another place 50 or 100 feet away? Yes , i have seen it ,but that’s not communication. That is a tree drowning in water dumping it elsewhere. Mycorrhiza has been proven by university studies https://extension.okstate.edu/fact-sheets/mycorrhizal-fungi.html. as i said before elsewhere, that is limited to certain plants, and not all relationships are well understood. The relationships are real. There is no one size fits all. We all have seen blackberry rhizomes or a plum thicket. Canadian cherries like carmine jewell clump up, etc. Pawpaw may also be connected, but that is not every tree which i find the articles misleading.
Read the section regarding minerals.
Certainly mycorrhiza exists and some species interact with some plants. But on the face of it your statement is a gross overgeneralization.
Depending upon what you mean by “relationships”.
Apparently there are a few others, if this article is any indication: How Trees Survive and Thrive After A Fire - National Forest Foundation
" Serotinous cones.
In environments where hot, fast moving fires are frequent, some pine species have developed very thick, hard cones that are literally glued shut with a strong resin. These “serotinous” cones can hang on a pine tree for years, long after the enclosed seeds mature. Only when a fire sweeps through, melting the resin, do these heat-dependent cones open up, releasing seeds that are then distributed by wind and gravity.
Examples of this fascinating trait of fire-stimulated seed dispersal include Jack pine (Pinus banksiana, also called grey pine and scrub pine) in the north central and northeastern United States and Table Mountain pine (Pinus pungens, also called hickory pine, prickly pine or mountain pine) that grows in dry, rocky sites in the Appalachian Mountains. Lodgepole pines, ubiquitous across much of the West, are one of the first species to grow after a fire because of their serotinous cones.
As opposed to serotinous cones, which protect enclosed seeds during a fire, the actual seeds of many plants in fire-prone environments need fire, directly or indirectly, to germinate. These plants produce seeds with a tough coating that can lay dormant, awaiting a fire, for several years. Whether it is the intense heat of the fire, exposure to chemicals from smoke or exposure to nutrients in the ground after fire, these seeds depend on fire to break their dormancy. Notable examples of shrubs with this particular fire adaptation include Rhamnaceae (Buckthorn family, including Ceanothus, Coffeeberry, and Redberry) that grow in the California chaparral and other ecosystems of the American West.
A combination of factors has come to limit and alter historic fire regimes. This has had a cascading effect on which species are present in certain ecosystems. Without the right kind of fire regimes, some trees simply can’t reproduce, and overall forest health can be negatively affected. At the same time, unnaturally severe fires can destroy forests, even those that have adapted to fire.
Fortunately, land managers are realizing the value of re-introducing controlled fire in ecosystems where it existed historically, embracing it as a tool rather than fighting it as a threat. That’s a welcome change for the forests, trees and other plants that depend on fire to thrive."
But do they also develop networks of rootsuckers? That is the phenomena that spawned the over-generalization to “all forests”.
Much of the time articles are written by novices quoting what they understood an expert say. This leads to miscommunications based on many partial truths. As an example, someone might be interviewed saying something general, like nitrogen fertilizer, is necessary for these trees. That is partially true, but we dont use nitrogen on pears every year. There is some validity in what they say, but it is misleading. The writer then quotes the expert, but when it is read by another novice, they put nitrogen on their trees every year. I understand that is what you want to prevent, but im saying we dont want people to think there is no partial truth here. They are reaching well beyond what science corroborates to a point of being fictional at times . Think they did that accidentally in most cases because these processes are not properly studied at all.
Actually much of the content in popular literature is written by marketeers who pay to have their article published in a magazine or blog that also features advertisements for their products. I have been approached by those publications many times!
Well most trees do form natural root grafts with their own species and close relatives, so they can share nutrients (and diseases!) even if they aren’t genetic clones.
What was interesting about that RadioLab episode, and the other somewhat sensational articles written about those same studies, was the idea that fungal networks could maybe serve as “middlemen” between the roots of trees that otherwise cannot form grafts, since they are not graft compatible.
I’m sure the truth is somewhere in the middle, where some nutrients may flow from tree to nearby tree through the mycorrhizal networks, but not really “information” or “warnings” like some of those pieces claimed.
The evidence is to the contrary. Read the section regarding minerals.
Adjacency root grafts are very different from purposeful rhizomatic propagation.
There are always people misleading others to scam them out of money thats true.
There is more than one relationship here. To properly discuss them, we would have to break them out and discuss them individually and be very specific.