Research

Fungal Fluid Dynamics

Fungal flow.

Many plants gain the soil-bound nutrients they need by trading with symbiotic fungi. Underground, these fungi spread networks that gather and store phosphorus, which they then trade with host plants to get the carbon they need. Research shows that the fungi can be shrewd traders, moving phosphorus from nutrient-rich areas to poorer ones in order to maximize their trade gains.

What you see above are snapshots of some of this transport within the fungal network. Notice how flow within the branching network changes direction. The fungus can force these flow reversals in a matter of seconds, allowing it to move nutrients to wherever the best returns are found. (Image and research credit: M. Whiteside et al.)

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