Trees need fungi to absorb nutrients and water, but now the fungi themselves seem to be in control.
We are, of course, familiar with many fungi that are harmful to plants, but in this case it is about fungi that enter into a very positive cooperation with plants. To achieve this cooperation, it now appears that they are using the same strategy as their disgusting colleagues. They use small pieces of RNA to influence the genetic development of roots in plant cells. They disrupt the plant’s immune system in such a way that cooperation can be established. If they don’t, the plant sees all the fungi as dangerous invaders.
Vincent Merckx, evolutionary biologist at Naturalis And he wasn’t involved in the research himself, telling us more about the ancient collaborations between plants and fungi, what we’ve learned thanks to this research and the bigger picture of fungal networks.
Also interesting: fast fungi have trouble with small holes. Or this: plants manipulate the neighbor’s genes.