The Belfry Theatre has announced the [premiere of a play they have commissioned, titled As Above. Written by Christine Quintana, As Above follows the character Joe, a botanical researcher in her late 60s, who has been sober for eight years. Quintana said that this thriller/love story is driven by her fascination of communication networks between trees. This aspect in the play detailed how trees may communicate their needs and rely on one another through fungal networks.
Barbara Hawkins, a researcher at the University of Victoria’s Centre for Forest Biology, was asked to comment on the science behind Quintana’s play. Hawkins explained that mycorrhizae – the symbiotic relationship formed between plants and fungi networks – is important because the trees rely on the fungi when nutrition is scarce. However, Hawkins also pointed out that the science behind trees communicating with each other through these types of networks, is not strongly supported.
Barbara Hawkins is a biology professor and researcher at UVic’s Faculty of Science and UVic’s Centre for Forest Biology. Hawkins’ areas of study include tree physiology, tree nutrition, plant cold hardiness, and forest regeneration. Dr. Hawkins is particularly interested in how trees acclimate to low temperatures and low levels of nitrate.
To find out more about her work, you can read Dr. Hawkins’ publications in the University of Victoria’s institutional repository, UVicSpace! Or if you are interested in ecology, try checking out the collection of publications for the Centre for Forest Biology in UVicSpace.