Under the soil, life

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Last week we began our inquiry into tree life under the ground with a careful, suggestive introduction to root/fungus relationships with biologist and plant ecologist Scot Mangan. A specialist in what he describes as the ‘biology of dirt,’ Scott introduced into our conversation a range of ways to understand the mutualism of mycorrhizal relationships as well as the selectivity of fungal pathogens. Ecto-mycorrhizal associations are those tuned to the sort of oaks we are working with, as we follow a range of issues related to differential allocation, root architecture, and basics of sub-surface growth. In the photo above, Scott leads a discussion in reading the possible signs of the presence of mycorrhizal  associations as we view the stunted, blunt growth of fine roots.

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