This Underground Economy Exists in a Secret Fungi Kingdom

New research has revealed that fungi—you
know, like mushrooms—barter and trade with other organisms like little stockbrokers. Basically, there’s a whole economy of nutrients
right beneath our feet that we are just uncovering. And yes, it can be pronounced either fun-guy or fun-gee, don’t even start, and their classification has been difficult, to say
the least. They’re eerily more genetically similar
to animals than they are to plants or bacteria. And things only get weirder from there. Fungi are possibly the most widely distributed
organisms on Earth, existing everywhere on Earth from the North to South Pole. They take elements like carbon that are trapped
in organic matter, and through decomposition, they process and release those elements back into the ecosystem for other organisms to use. They can do this by releasing a sophisticated
cocktail of enzymes and other helpful chemicals that allow them to break down organic material
outside of their bodies, so that they can more easily digest the nutrients. This is how fungi cause
decay. But they don’t just play an essential role
as nutrient cyclers. See, all living things need phosphorus and
nitrogen to live, but not a lot of those elements exist in forms that are ready for uptake. We eat plants and other things that eat plants
to get enough of our phosphorous and nitrogen, but where do the plants get it? That’s right: microbes, like bacteria and
fungi. Fungi that work with plants in this way can
grow into structures called hyphae: delicate thread-like tendrils that can push into a plants’
roots. This forms mycorrhizae—symbiotic relationships
between fungi and the plants they glom on to. And for the record, mycorrhizae refers
both to the kind of fungi that do this and the relationship between a fungus and a plant’s
roots, so it’s a dual-purpose word. Mycorrhizae can also connect to each other
to form incredibly dense, expansive, and interconnected networks. Some estimates say there’s around 200 meters
of mycorrhizal hyphae in just one gram of typical forest soil. I mean are you kidding me? But plants bring something to the table, too. They have an ability that fungi do not—they
can form carbohydrates through photosynthesis. So in exchange for essential nutrients, plants
provide fungi with those tasty, tasty sugars. This worldwide network of nutrient exchange
includes all kinds of microbes, like these fungi and bacteria that play a similar role,
and as a whole, this system has come to be known as the Wood Wide Web. And we’re not even to the coolest part yet! New research details just how these nutrient
exchanges between plants and fungi actually work. It’s like zooming in on a business contract. We thought we knew what it said but then we
took a closer look at the fine print and woa boy is it more complicated than we imagined. A research team in Amsterdam recently found
that these nutrient exchanges may operate almost like an economy. When the plants have more sugars to share,
the fungi give more phosphorus in return, and vice versa. Both parties can ‘punish’ or ‘reward’
each other for good exchange rates. They can even withhold a store of a nutrient
until the other party has a better ‘offer’. Building on the results of this work, the
team wanted to go even further. They tagged each of the molecules in question
with a fluorescent compound, and then tracked the tagged molecules using a powerful confocal
microscope. This allowed them to quantify the nutrient
transfer from the fungi to the plant root and, for the first time ever, actually see
the transfer of nutrients. They then began to study flow patterns within
the fungus, making videos of the complex patterns of movement—you can actually see here that
the fungus stops the flow of nutrients in one direction and reverses it, sending them
back the other way. The scientists think this is our first look
into how fungi can redirect nutrients in response to their environment. It could even be that these oscillations of
molecules represent some kind of communication—could this be how these complex fungal networks transmit information? A new paper from a separate team used a database
of over a million samples to visualize fungal relationships with their respective plants,
revealing distinct patterns in biogeography: that means that certain areas of the world
have a particular ecosystem type that supports specific plant-fungus interactions. This is a more macro look at the role fungi
play in ecosystems that are defined by their local climates. Research into the complex kingdom of fungi
could help us better understand how organisms all over the world—both fungi and their
business partners—have evolved and survived over millennia. If we pair this nano-scale look at the transfer of nutrients with a larger, more ecosystem-level dynamic we can better understand how these relationships might change as the climate becomes more unpredictable, and what that might mean for the plants that
we rely on as we look into the future. Do you want even more on the mind-blowing facts
we’re discovering about the microbial life on our planet? Check out this video here, and make sure you
subscribe to Seeker to keep up with all your fungal news, it just might grow on you. And as always, thanks for watching, and I’ll
see you next time.

100 thoughts on “This Underground Economy Exists in a Secret Fungi Kingdom

  1. If you were my teacher I would have shown up to class. You are beautiful. And so is the mushroom growth footage.

  2. Seeing those networks makes me think of neurons forming connections
    Imagine if there was some life form that was just a massive intelligence growing underground

  3. The "Barter and Trade" action(s) aren't truly what fungi are doing necessarily in this film, but the model of "Bartering and Trading" is possibly a "back and forth transfer with andor without any "evaluation" by the fungi itself".

  4. Speaking as an arborist, I often say that mycorrhizae are the secret to tree success that should not be a secret. Thank you for this video!

  5. Why did the mycologist leave the party?

    There was not mushroom for him. I was sad to see him go because he was a fungi

  6. Wait this reality? And what's the name of the branch of science that deals with the communication of fungus and plants.?

  7. They are like middlemen that trade the nutrients from decomposing organic matter and turn it into a form of food for the roots of plants. Pretty neat.

  8. An economy where sugar(carbon) is the coin of the realm. Follow the money and the fungi are the beneficiaries. 65% of all the energy collected by plants ends up in the fungal mat. Fungi were here long before there were any green plants at all. Since all religions on the planet have mushroom cults in their very beginnings, and given that fungi provide all the nourishment for plants that provide all the nourishment for animals, it would seem that we are all here to serve fungi.I rest my case.

  9. Then is it logical to assume based on symbiotic relationship, that fungi Generally dont invade mercilessly like bacteria and their purpose include co existence? I'd love a studied reply please

  10. Forgive me. Maybe insane: could the mechanisms that balance the nature, bacteria, be the one that change specific settings to adopt when environment change? If so, humanity trying to adapt to effects of global warming could lead to extinction. We must take the planet's climate back in time if the actual nature is not controller by us. Maybe it's short sighted to Bandaid since we can't reverse the rising sea not knowing what effects the Bandaids will create.

  11. WRONG! YOU CANNOT PRONOUNCE IT FUN-GUY OR FUN-JEE. Because you would NOT say FUN-JUS. IF you would NEVER say FUN-JUS then you CANNOT say FUN-JEE. IT'S FUN-GUY OR FUN-GEE – ONLY! THAT'S IT! You do not get to make crap up. Hate when people think they can just make up their own words. Also I hate when British people put an "R" on the end of every word that ends in the letter "A" "Hi My name is MELISSARRRRRR.." , "I TRAVELED TO AMERICARRRRR" , "WHILE I WAS THERE I SAWRR A BIRD." smh. ALSO, Greenland is pronounced GREENLEND. WITH AN "E" just like FINLAND is pronounced FINLEND. The only place in the world that is spelled like LAND, and pronounced like LAND is DISNEYLAND. fkn POS!

  12. You give the most atractive content on seeker, but no sicodelia, organic things, your own body and intelect playing openly like a child, can make you feel with sustantiablity like a Funghi of love, no oscure, just like water in the aire during the day if you can find enough water organic funghi playing during the day with your intelect there is no necesity for any sicodelia supplement.

  13. No Maleficent, I liked seeing you dressed in Jean's jacket so much, you're perfect to start moving the cowboys imagination so they start using the intellect too, dress like a cowgirl.

  14. Seen and learned about this from a video about "Paul Stamets" a few years ago.

    Also he found out that Bee's harvest a liquid from fungi in decaying wood, after testing samples he found that the liquid was very high in antibiotic and antiviral compounds, he figures its a way for Bee's/hive to bolster their immune system.

  15. Ok… but how? They dont have muscles or any pumping or moving parts. How are they moving nutrients without moving cells?

  16. Seeker: Where do plants get their phosphorus and nitrogen from?
    Me: Ummm……..
    Seeker: "That's right microbes and bacterias."
    Me: yeah, that's what I was saying. I totally knew it was….. what was it again?

  17. I’m guessing that growing fungi will be a huge industry for agriculture, maximizing outputs on land that has been overly worked. Ploughing a paddock will become a rare event and fungi will be purchased like fertilizer. #justsaying love your channel.

  18. The forbidden knowledge is from 1.25 billion years. It already existed. And yet these people are so proud and with so much bullshit. ROFLMAO

    I am white and I am smart. ROFLMAO

  19. Missed this, I did, until now.

    Yes, it is communication you describe, among other things. Keep highlighting more discoveries about our world we could have understood long ago were humans not so self-absorbed and swollen headed.

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