Credits: Indiana University / NASA
ycorrhizal fungi (white/yellow) trading nutrients for carbon with tree roots (brown).
A team of NASA researchers has developed the first ever method for identifying and studying underground forest fungi from outer space, providing information that will help us better understand how forests will develop.
Mycorrhizal fungi (underground fungus) are more similar to a city network than to individual organisms. They are complex intertwined networks that can spread for miles and miles in the search for nutrients. You can find such a fungal network under most of the world’s forests, and there is a special type of relationship between it and trees. The fungus trades nutrients that trees need with the sugars that the trees make during photosynthesis, in an almost symbiotic fashion.