Deep, Down and Dirty: The Science of Soil

Genre: Documentary
51 min

unlikely hero.

'To help track it down,

'I'm joined by Lynne Boddy,

Professor of Mycology

'at Cardiff University.

'We're on the hunt for an organism

that prefers to stay

'out of the light.'

This is a likely-looking candidate,

plenty of moss on the surface.

Let's turn it over gently

and see what we can see.

Look at that.

Oh, it's wonderful, isn't it?

Absolutely covered, it's almost like

a spider's web under here, isn't it?

It is. This is fungus.

The crucial thing about the fungi

is that they release nutrients

which allow plants to

continue to grow.

The main body of the fungus is

called the mycelium, which is

made up of very, very,

very fine filaments,

they're too small to see by the naked

eye. But here they're aggregated

together to form cord- or root-like

structures that we can clearly see.

What do these threads do?

They grow out from this wood

in search of new resources,

so maybe the resources would be dead

leaves, more wood.

When they find them they exude

enzymes that break down the structure

of the wood or the leaves or any

other bits of dead plant material.

It's easy to overlook fungi.

But, to me,

they're true champions

of the natural world.

They begin the process

of breaking down dead wood

and leaves to release

the nutrients trapped inside.

It's an extremely rare ability.

The thing about the wood decay

fungi is that actually

they are the only organism or almost

the only organism that can

actually break down wood on this

planet, and that is one

of the reasons why they're

so important, because otherwise

we'd be up to our armpits in dead

stuff. And, in fact, plants

wouldn't be able to

grow because all the nutrients

on this planet would be locked up

in the dead plant material.

As the fungus breaks down the leaves

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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    "Deep, Down and Dirty: The Science of Soil" STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 15 Jan. 2021. <,_down_and_dirty:_the_science_of_soil_6651>.

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