New Zealand scientists have discovered a stump-vampire, sucking juices from neighboring trees

Walking through the forest, New Zealand environmentalistsSebastian Leysinger and Martin Bader of Auckland University of Technology discovered an unusual old stump of a dead tree, which, to their surprise, turned out to be very much alive. The researchers found that he lives at the expense of a strange symbiotic relationship with neighboring living trees, like a vampire, sucking water and nutrients from them through the root system. Scientists believe that their finding indicates that trees are not just separate living organisms, but coexist in the form of a huge living superorganism, which may include several dozens and even hundreds of trees.

The discovered stump once belonged to the southern agatis tree, also known as New Zealand agathis or the kauri tree.

Cowry tree

These trees are conifers, capable of growing up to 50 meters in height and, according to scientists, are among the oldest representatives of tree species that survived even dinosaurs.

What is symbiosis?

That plants can interact with each otherwith a friend, transferring nutrients among themselves, scientists have long known. This is called symbiosis and is found, for example, between trees and mushrooms. The latter, braiding the roots of trees, receive nutrients from them (carbohydrates, amino acids, etc.), and in turn, make more water and minerals available for absorption and absorption by the plant from the soil.

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In addition, scientists know that living treesthey can also be intertwined with their root system, which ultimately allows them to more effectively absorb and distribute water and nutrients from the soil. However, scientists knew little about a similar interaction between living and dead trees.

Unusual vampire stump

New Zealand researchers have discovered a strangestump by accident. They drew attention to the fact that he has new growths of woody tissue, as well as sap, as in all living and healthy trees. Scientists were very surprised by their discovery. The fact is that healthy trees need leaves for photosynthesis. Thanks to photosynthesis, trees produce carbohydrates. Without carbohydrates, trees and plants in general will not have enough energy to produce new tissues necessary for their growth. But the stump that appeared before the researchers showed all the signs of a living tree.

How did the stump stay alive?

Scientists have investigated the stump with the help of scientific instruments and sensors

Having decided to investigate the matter, the scientists firstWe found out that the stump is connected to neighboring trees through its root system, through which it receives nutrients and water. Then, using special sensors, scientists found that the stump really "breathes", emitting oxygen, though slightly less than its neighbors. After making sure that the stump is really healthy, the researchers began to study the specifics of the transfer of water and nutrients between the stump and its neighbors.

Studies have shown that the stump and neighboringtrees consume water at different times of the day. During the day, when living trees are busy transporting moisture from the soil to their roots, trunks, branches and leaves, the stump is idle. It does not retain water, which, including through its roots, goes to the roots of other trees. At night, live trees cease to be active. At night, the stump "wakes up." And it starts pumping water and nutrients it cannot produce to its roots from living trees due to the lack of its own photosynthetic tissue.

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Scientists conclude that for healthy treesThe old stump serves as the source of a large root system. Through it, the roots of neighboring trees can receive more moisture. In exchange, healthy trees share with a stump the necessary for him mineral and organic substances that he cannot produce himself. This exchange seems to be very beneficial for trees, given the size of the stump itself - well, how many nutrients does it need there?

At the same time, such cooperation betweentrees, the researchers say, may have flaws. Indeed, in addition to the transfer of beneficial substances, various pathogens can be transmitted through the roots.

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