By Suradip Das
What is Wood Wide Web ?
Certain fungi reside on the roots of trees in a symbiotic relationship. These fungi send out tube like structures called hyphae, which infiltrate the soil and weave into the tips of plant roots at a cellular level. These underground hyphal networks, believed to be 450 million years old, form a dazzling and complex architecture of information highways in forests for interplant communication and is called the “Wood Wide Web”.
Utility of Wood Wide Web
Forest dynamics study in the Epping forest (Greater London) and Douglas Fir forests (Northern America) reveal that this fungal network allows plants to distribute resources—sugar, nitrogen, and phosphorus between one another. Additionally, plants also communicate warning signals between one another using this network.
Just like our optical fiber-based Internet highways, these hyphal networks have nodes and hubs. It is estimated that one hub tree is connected to 47 others through this network.
Recently, scientists have been able to generate a global distribution map of these underground fungi across 28000 species of trees. They found that local climatic conditions determine the type of fungi forming the network.