What is the secret to the longevity of the largest organism on Earth?

The largest living organism in the world lives inthe American state of Oregon. It occupies an area of ​​more than 880 hectares, and its age is estimated at 8.5 thousand years. We are talking about the giant dark honey fungus (Armillaria ostoyae), which is not afraid of chemicals, pests and other dangers. Moreover, the mycelium itself is capable of instilling terror - penetrating into the trees growing on the surface, like a vampire, it sucks out water and nutrients from them. Scientists have been studying this huge organism for a long time and have recently been able to figure out why it has such an amazing vitality. It turns out that when in the wild, mushroom threads are covered with a material that is as strong as plastic. It is he who allows the huge mycelium to survive for thousands of years more successfully than all other living creatures.

Mushrooms of the species Armillaria ostoyae

Interesting fact: mushrooms are not plants because they are notable to extract energy from sunlight. But at the same time, they cannot be attributed to animals, because they do not feed through the mouth, but absorb nutrients from the whole body. Most of the mushrooms are interconnected by a network of branched filaments - mycelium.

The largest mycelium in the world

A huge mycelium of a dark mushroom, likementioned above is located in Oregon. Mushrooms are interconnected by long plexuses, referred to as rhizomorphs. These mushroom filaments are hidden underground and penetrate the trees growing on the surface to suck out water and other nutrients from them. It is believed that the huge mycelium can destroy up to 600 trees and other plants, causing damage to farmers in the amount of several million dollars.

The mycelium penetrates into trees and steals nutrients from them.

According to the scientific publication Science Alert, onat the moment the mycelium weighs from 7.5 to 35 thousand tons. Vitality helped her achieve such an impressive size. According to researcher Debora Lyn Porter, in the absence of trees, mushroom nets can be dormant for decades. But when plants appear on the surface, the mycelium becomes active again and sucks out all the vitality from them.

See also: Can mushrooms save the planet and rid us of disease?

The secret of mycelium longevity

To find out how the mycelium remains inliving for decades, scientists decided to study rhizomorphs in the laboratory. They had two samples of mushroom filaments at their disposal: the first was grown artificially, and the second grew in a natural environment. It turned out that the fragments of the wild mycelium have a protective layer that protects both from mechanical stress and from chemicals. Researcher Steven Naleway compared the strength of this coating to plastic and noted that such properties are rare in nature.

Artificial (left) and wild (right) rhizomorphs

You can see that the natural rhizomorph is colored inblack color. Melanin, a pigment that gives mushrooms different benefits, gives it such a shade. For example, it binds calcium ions, which protect against poisons produced by insects. But the surface layer of the mycelium itself is well protected from harmful substances. Yes, there are pores on its surface, but they are so tiny that chemicals cannot pass through them.

Rhizomorphs in nature

Ultimately, it turns out that survivabilitythe huge mycelium in Oregon is associated with the presence of a durable layer for protection from external influences. According to Stephen Neilway, if it is necessary to destroy large myceliums, henceforth, it is necessary to influence the outer layer of rhizomorphs - otherwise this idea may be a failure. In addition to protection, the outer layer makes the mycelium strong and allows it to break through hard tree roots and steal nutrients from plants. Based on all this, it is not surprising that the mycelium has lived for thousands of years and is doing pretty well.

Pando is considered the largest tree in the world.

Links to interesting articles, funny memes and a lot of other interesting information can be found on our telegram channel. Subscribe!

Finally, I note that in addition to the mycelium, the mushroomdark, there is a huge colony of aspen poplar (Populus tremuloides). It is located in the US state of Utah and is officially called Pando. The collection of trees covers an area of ​​43 hectares, and the total weight of the plant is estimated at 6,000 tons. In 2018, this huge forest stopped growing and scientists even started talking about its imminent death. You can read more about this at the link.