The project to map the world’s fungal networks – and why it matters

Together with visualisations of nutrients streaming within networks, the findings will help recognize high-priority sites with potential to save more carbon and to endure severe climate events..

” Globally, the overall length of fungal mycelium in the top 10cm of soil is more than 450 quadrillion km: about half the width of our galaxy,” Kiers says. “These symbiotic networks consist of an ancient life-support system that easily qualifies as one of the marvels of the living world.”.

Fungal networks are the circulatory systems if trees are the lungs of our planet. These underground networks– which extend an estimated trillions of miles around Earth– are largely unexplored, yet may show vital to our efforts to secure soil..

Main image: Christoph Hetzmannseder/Getty.

The realities:.

The job is possible thanks to a $3.5 m (₤ 2.6 m) donation from Jeremy Grantham, a billionaire financier and environment research funder..

SPUN will conduct its very first tasting mission together with the US-based Fungi Foundation in April. SPUN will train and partner with scientists, activists and local communities to collect samples, and protect and handle underground communities.

Includes Kiers: “Mycorrhizal fungal networks have long continual and enriched life on our world. Its time that they received the attention they are worthy of.”.

In addition to sequestering substantial amounts of carbon, they move nutrients across communities and are important to soil health and fertility. But many hotspots of mycorrhizal fungi are now under threat: aspects consist of agricultural growth, deforestation, urbanisation and contamination..

He is amongst those helping to assist the project, along with the conservationist Jane Goodall..

Work is set to begin on the biggest-ever project to map strange fungal networks. Can it shine a light on a global blind spot?

Now, a brand-new project from the worldwide Society for the Protection of Underground Networks (SPUN), will see some 10,000 samples collected from around the world. Secret areas, including the western Sahara and the steppes of Kazakhstan, are being recognized through AI technology..

Toby Kiers, professor of evolutionary biology at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam– who co-founded the project together with fellow researcher Colin Averill– explains the relative absence of knowledge to date as a “global blind spot”..

Mycorrhizal fungal networks have long continual life on our planet. Its time that they got the attention they should have.

Many hotspots of mycorrhizal fungi are now under risk – mapping them might assist. Image: Hans Veth.

Merlin Sheldrake, biologist and author of the book Entangled Life, states that mycorrhizal fungal networks and the nutrient flows and processes they handle should be considered a worldwide public great, “comparable to tidy air and water”..


Number of years that mycorrhizal networks have developed over.


Of Earths types reside in the soil.


Number of samples that SPUN aims to gather over then next 18 months.

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