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Trees exchange information when beetles attack

A new study published in Science of the Total Environment shows once again how trees and plants in general are interconnected when it comes to survival. It is one of those studies that show that trees can literally communicate with each other even to counter “predators.”

The study, conducted by a scientist at the University of Alberta, focused on the pines of Lodgepole, a species widespread especially in North America but which over time has been “introduced” into Scandinavian countries as well Sweden and Norway.

The researcher found that when attacked by pine beetles, these trees release particular volatile chemical compounds to warn nearby trees about the threat. These “messages” can only be decoded by trees of the same species, as reported by the scientist Altaf Hussain who led the study.

It is not the first study that shows a communication system between trees, but past research has mostly focused on the mechanisms based on networks of roots under the ground. This is the first study that shows a form of communication that takes place via volatile chemicals.

These substances are transferred from trees attached to trees not yet attached within 30 meters distance via a mushroom associated with the same beetle. This study could help to implement a possible form of contrast against the dwarf pine beetles which are one of the most serious threats with regard to North American forests, particularly Canadians.