Mushrooms embrace human economic ideas in trading with hosts
It seems that mushrooms are quietly practicing one of the basic functions of a free market, the researchers report.
New research suggests that some fungal networks embrace important economic theory because they exchange nutrients for carbon with their host plants.
This discovery could help understand carbon storage in soils, an important tool for mitigating climate change.
The article will appear in a future edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Ted Loch-Temzelides, professor of economics and chair of sustainability at Rice University, examined through an economic lens the data from ecological experiments on arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi networks, which connect to plants and facilitate the exchange of nutrients for carbon.
Loch-Temzelides discovered that these relationships resemble the way economists view competitive markets, also known as Walrasians.
The article demonstrates that Walrasian equilibrium, a flagship concept in economic market theory used to make predictions, can also be used to understand trading in this “organic market”.
“Far from being sacrificed, organisms such as fungi can exhibit competitive behavior similar to that of markets involving sophisticated human participants,” explains Loch-Temzelides.
Its conclusion also implies that resources are allocated for the maximum benefit of market players, in this case, fungi and plants.
“It is estimated that mycorrhizal fungal networks around the world sequester around 5 billion tonnes of carbon per year,” explains Loch-Temzelides.
“Manipulating the terms of trade so that carbon obtained from host plants becomes cheaper relative to nutrients could lead to additional carbon storage in the soil, which could bring major benefits in the fight against climate change. . “
Loch-Temzelides hopes that future research by biologists and economists will better understand these interactions.
Source: Rice University