“A ‘biological universe’ exists in a gram of soil.” (Fortuna.) I’ve often looked to the stars or the sea to picture a magic-like expanse that holds so many secrets and marvels of life. I’ve never given much thought to what is under my feet. After the contemplative practice from week 8, I started to search for words I have never heard of such as “soil biota” and “rhizoremediation.” I quickly fell down the rabbit hole of the immensity that our perfect soil does.
As mentioned in Dr. Litfin’s practice, the soil and its biota, abiota and symbiotic realm is almost a perfect loop. Left alone to thrive, our soil would continue to balance it’s nutrients and ecology. The soil’s rhizosphere is evolved to balance the needs of the plants, animals, bacteria and fungi that develop in it’s precious make up. Without writing a novel, take one small piece of the puzzle- fungi, and especially mycelium, are a phenomenon on it’s own. Ask anyone what the largest organism is and we would most likely answer the blue whale. But to learn that, in fact, a colony of honey fungus beats the massive whale at a whopping estimated 2.4 miles across in Oregon. (Fleming.) Not only is it the largest, but also perhaps the oldest organism dating anywhere between 2,400-8,650 years old! (Casselman.) These large fungi not only symbiotically support growth of countless plans but studies have also began to show that it can possibly communicate. They’ve been seen to transfer nutrients between plants as well as possibly warning other mycelia of danger.
While we will always look to the stars for advanced communication and wonder, perhaps more of us should pay homage to the incredible and humble soil beneath our feet. A near perfect ecosystem in which it can sustain itself with little to no waste as well as host the largest organism? Soil doesn’t get the credit it deserves.
Fleming, Nick. “The Largest Living Thing on Earth is a Humongous fungus.” BBC, November 19, 2014. http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20141114-the-biggest-organism-in-the-world
Casselman, Anne. “Strange but True: The Largest Organism on the Earth Is a Fungus” Scientific American, October 4, 2007. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/strange-but-true-largest-organism-is-fungus/
Fortuna, Ann- Maria. “The Soil Biota.” (Dept. of Crop & Soil Sciences, Washington State University) 2012 Nature Education. Accessed March 14, 2018. https://www.nature.com/scitable/knowledge/library/the-soil-biota-84078125