Does Nature Know Best?

Larry Caldwell larryc at teleport.com
Thu Jan 8 11:25:44 EST 1998


In article <884108756.897253377 at dejanews.com>, dwheeler at teleport.com wrote:

> We don't know for sure, but it is probably a combination of both. For
> example, at the first truffle farm inoculated in Oregon, the owner has
> removed entire rows. Yet the remaining stumps continue to live. We
> suspect the stumps (now over 2 years old) grafted roots underground with
> nearby trees. But mycorrhizae are known to associate in complex ways,
> forming mycorrhizal mat communities which tie in several trees and shrubs
> together. These mat communities also stabilize otherwise unstable slopes
> and strongly decrease erosion.
 
This may not be a surprise to silviculturalists (as distinct from 
foresters).  One of the lectures in the woodland management class I
took last fall described root grafting, and indicated it was a major
means of transmission of laminar root rot.  The lecturer also mentioned
that mycorrhizal species are being tested as prophylactic against root
rot.

It's certainly possible.  I've read about the mycorrhizal relationship,
and it's incredibly close.  The fungus actually interpenetrates the
cell structure of the roots.  It's a true symbiosis, not just an
association.

I was an amateur mycologist long before I got involved with forestry.
Mycorrhizal relationships are multitudinous in nature.  The entire
genus cortinarius is mycorrhizal with fir. Unfortunately,  a good 
percentage of the species in the genus will kill you if you eat them.
All things being equal, converting a stand of timber to edible 
mycorrhizae is a delightful prospect.

Which brings up some questions.  I still have frozen truffle innoculant
left over from last year.  It should be just fine, but I'm wondering if
you have added any new species to your innoculant package in the last
year?  If so, I may order some.  If not, I'll just stick with the batch
from last year.  

I have another question.  You mentioned in one of your posts to 
bionet.mycology that yeast had some role in promoting the germination 
of certain fungal spores.  Is there any advantage to tossing a teaspoon
of yeast into the innoculant slurry, or is the process more complex
than that?

My seedlings should be showing up soon.  The weather has been clement,
which means the nursery at Elkton is able to lift seedlings on schedule.
I'm sticking with doug fir this year, which was a bit of a miscalculation.
It turns out that one plot may not have good enough drainage for doug
fir, and I should have planted pine there instead.  Surprisingly, ponderosa
pine is not only more drought tolerant than fir, it also tolerates wet
feet better.

Oh well.  I still haven't come up with an innoculant package for the
pine.  This gives me another year, unless I find some uncommitted
seedlings.

-- Larry



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