Fungi could play a key role in fighting the climate crisis.
Very rarely, humanity makes fundamental discoveries that are right under our nose, or feet, and then learn to work with them; but fungi just might be one. Thanks to the TV series The Last of Us, fungal networks took center stage in 2023, but there are many more impressive - and more realistic - things to discuss.
Toby Kiers is a professor of evolutionary biology at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and co-founded the Society for the Protection of Underground Networks (SPUN). Her research is about a particular fungus interacting with plant roots (arbuscular mycorrhizae, for those of you who can't wait) and how they are "tiny capitalists" in how they build underground economies with other fungi, plants, and insects. SPUN use nanotechnology, high-res imaging, and software to map out and - maybe even - interact with these networks.
The implications of Toby's work are groundbreaking. We could reduce our reliance on harmful fertilizers and boost crop yields, measure, predict, and even improve soil biodiversity. We eagerly anticipate Toby's talk at The Drop, enlightening us on the untapped potential of fungi in combating the climate crisis.