Fungi specialise in interconnecting other living entities and kingdoms, inventing the most important nutrient system on the planet – most land plants depend on them.
Fungi are much older than plants and evolved in sea some 700 million years before plants, also moving to land 70 million years before plants, in that time learning vitally how to break down minerals and nutrients from rocks which could then be fed to plants in one of the most fundamental partnerships and examples of mutualism on the planet.
This partnership has allowed plants to colonise the earth’s surface fixing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and depending upon the fungi’s agile, constantly shifting, extensive network – one single tree can be associated with hundreds of thousands of fungi.
The fungi partnership also provides plants with protection to parasitic bacteria and fungi, as well as filtering out toxins that accumulate in the plant. They share nutrients between species in the forest, encouraging diversity and a healthy forest, reducing competition between species. They take from the rich and give to the poor and are the ‘brains of the soil’.
This ‘Neurological Network of Nature’ senses movements of organisms across the land, taking action upon activity – like a falling branch. They thrive in living in uncertainty, adapting to dynamic change through flexibility and local attunement. They have 4 principle process types: exploration, assimilation, conservation and redistribution.
A spore landing on a forest floor sends out radial networks – similar to the way our own neural networks works – which explore the forest then upon finding food focus in, with unsuccessful routes abandoned, then assimilate and through effective sustainable colonisation conserve and redistribute nutrients to foster on-going viability of that area of the forest sometimes using rich areas to help poorer areas of the forest develop, through redistribution. This, fostering diversity and reducing competition by encouraging cooperation between species. This mutualism goes beyond the normal win-win relationships found in nature, as it fosters cooperation and diversity across other species too, hence acting as the teacher and preacher of mutualism.
Keep tuned to this blog to learn more about relationships in nature and how we can learn from nature in this regard, through the partnership BCI has with Royal Botanic Gardens Kew – a unique partnership focused at building abridge between business and nature.