Do trees communicate via a ‘wood wide web’? The evidence is lacking

A review of studies on mycorrhizal fungi finds there is insufficient evidence for the popular idea that trees communicate and share resources via these underground networks


13 February 2023

Mushrooms growing around the base of a tree in a forest

Some forest mushrooms are the fruiting bodies of fungi that grow underground and have mutually beneficial relationships with tree roots

BIOSPHOTO / Alamy Stock Photo

The idea that trees communicate and share resources with each other via an underground network of fungi, sometimes called the “wood wide web”, has little evidence to back it up, say researchers who have reviewed the science.

Mycorrhizal fungi live on plants’ roots and grow into vast networks beneath the forest floor. In recent years, books and documentaries have popularised the idea that these fungal networks help trees recognise related individuals …

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