Skip to main content
Season 5 | Episode 2

Digging into the Wood Wide Web

Feb. 1, 2024

As foresters we spend a great deal of time looking up, to evaluate forest composition, structure, ​and growth. The story below ground is equally interesting, with complex interactions between soils, nutrients, water, roots, and a host of other flora and fauna. As they say in Vegas, “what happens below ground, stays below ground!” Everything here is more difficult to study. This is particularly true regarding a class of organisms critical to trees: mycorrhizal fungi. We know that mycorrhizal fungi play an important role in allowing trees to uptake more nutrients and water. But does it go further than that? There have been a huge number of popular media stories talking about this subject, but what is the current state of the science?  And what do foresters need to know about how these fungi impact tree growth, or how we impact mycorrhizal fungi through management? Join us on this episode as we explore this subject with Justine Karst, Associate Professor and mycologist with the University of Alberta, and Marty Kranabetter, Regional Soil Scientist with the British Columbia Ministry of Forests.​




Justine Karst, Ph.D.

Associate Professor​, Department of Renewable Resources, University of Alberta

Justine Karst has been studying the mycorrhizal ecology for the past 20 years. Mycorrhizas are symbioses formed between roots and fungi, and play important ​​​roles in forest recovery after disturbances, carbon cycling, and formation of soils. Through a combination of field, lab and greenhouse experiments, her lab learns about mycorrhizas and applies this knowledge to maintain and restore forests on the landscape.​

J. Marty Kranabetter, Ph.D.

West Coast Region Soil Scientist, BC Ministry of Forests

Marty Kranabetter is the West Coast regional soil scientist with the BC Ministry of Forests and is located in Victoria. Marty’s areas of interest are soil ecology (especially ectomycorrhizal fungi), biodiversity conservation, carbon sequestration, and forest nutrition/productivity. Marty is a member of the provincial soil science group undertaking North American-wide studies on compaction and site organic matter removal (the Long-term Soil Productivity Study).  Most recently he has also been examining nitrogen and phosphorus deficiencies inherent to coastal forests and their interactions on conifer nutrition and forest productivity.  ​

SilviCast Resources

SilviCast CEUs

SilviCast offers CEUs/CFEs for listening to episodes. Here’s how it works:

  1. Listen to this episode.
  2. Register and pay $10 for the CEU quiz.
  3. Take the quiz (you will have 1 attempt and need to obtain at least a 70%).
  4. Print your certificate of completion.
  5. Submit the certificate to your organization of choice.

Episode Show Notes

Positive citation bias and overinterpreted results lead to misinformation on common mycorrhizal networks in f​orests​ Karst et. al., Nature Ecology & Evolution, Vol. 7, April 2023, pp.501-511.

Karst Lab​​​

Explore Dr. Kranabetter’s Research and Publications:


Have a question for our hosts? How about an idea for a future episode? Let us know, we’d love to hear from you. Send a note to our Dropbox with your questions, comments, or ideas.

Sponsor SilviCast

Want to advertise your product, company, or organization on SilviCast? Sponsor a season or an episode!