Carbon trading by trees reported in Science (AAAS) News and ScienceDaily 14 April 2016 and Science vol. 352, pp. 342-344, 15 April 2016, doi:10.1126/science.aad6188. Most land plants, including trees, have a symbiotic relationship with underground mycorrhizal fungi, where the plant supplies sugars made by photosynthesis to the fungi, and the fungi facilitate the absorption of nutrients and minerals from the ground back to the plant. The underground fungi can form an extensive network through a forest and interact with several different plants at the same time.

Scientists in Switzerland have now found that forest trees can also share the products of photosynthesis with surrounding trees by way of the fungal network. Photosynthesis involves taking in carbon dioxide and turning it into sugars, which are then used to build plant tissues. Using a system of fine tine tubes supported by a crane, the scientists supplied carbon dioxide that had a different content of carbon isotopes to the crowns of spruce trees in a mixed forest of spruce, beech, larch, and pine trees. The difference in isotope content enabled the scientists to identify where the carbon in plant tissues was originally taken in and used to make sugars.

They found there was extensive exchange of carbon between neighbouring trees, including trees of different species. Up to 40% of the carbon in the fine roots came from other trees with lesser amounts found in the trunks.

The research team concluded: “Although competition for resources is commonly considered as the dominant tree-to-tree interaction in forests, trees may interact in more complex ways, including substantial carbon exchange”.

One of the researchers, Christian Körner of the University of Basel, commented: “Evidently the forest is more than the sum of its trees”.

Science News, ScienceDaily

Editorial Comment: According to Darwin it was the “war of nature” that caused higher, more complex organisms to come into being. However, in the real world it is co-operation, not competition, that sustains the living world, with cooperative mutually beneficial symbiosis being the norm, rather than the exception. Never forget that a forest truly is more than the sum of all the trees because the real forest is also a reminder that God not only created individual living things in fully functional forms, but also created whole functioning ecosystems. (Ref. botany, forestry, ecology

Evidence News vol. 16 No. 10
8 June 2016
Creation Research Australia