Forests that are facing the dangers of disappearing from the effects of climate change might have an unlikely ally: ancient underground fungi. A recently published paper puts forward a theory called the “paleosymbiosis hypothesis,” which states that tree roots can activate an underground fungal network that has laid dormant for millennia. These fungi could helping boreal forests spread further north as the permafrost that supports the trees is melting away from warmer temperatures. If upheld, the hypothesis has big implications for the survival of boreal and tundra ecosystems in the face of climate change.


Jason Pither, Brian J. Pickles

Corresponding author:

Jason Pither, Okanagan Institute for Biodiversity, Resilience, and Ecosystem Services, University of British Columbia, Okanagan, Kelowna, BC, Email:

Original paper published in FEMS Microbiology Ecology on July 5, 2017.