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Work on trees in Porto, Source: Porto Municipality

Porto trees get innovative care

Porto trees get innovative care

Linden trees get inoculated with a special type of fungus

Porto Municipality has joined an innovative European research project called UrbanMycoServe, which has the goal to improve the health and longevity of urban trees by inoculating them with a type of mushroom called ectomycorrhizal fungi (EcM).

The initiative is carried out in collaboration with researchers from the Higher School of Biotechnology at the Catholic University of Portugal. Apart from Porto, the cities of Leuven (Belgium) and Strasbourg (France) are also participating in this project.

Trees are important regulators of urban microclimates and temperature

City trees are much more than simple pretty fixtures on the streets and in parks. It is well known that they produce oxygen and consume carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. They are also essential for regulating the urban climate and temperature – without them, many cities would become unlivable.

And just like any living thing their health is subject to changes and needs good care. The city ambience can be stressful on many trees, such as the linden (Tilia tomentosa) as many trees are planted too close to each other not giving them enough space to develop correctly, for example.

Scientists have discovered that the ectomycorrhizal fungus (a type of mushroom) forms a beneficial symbiosis with many tree species helping them thrive better. We can think of inoculating the trees with that fungus as a type of vaccination that would make them more resilient to the adversities they have to face.

The project itself began two years ago with the installation of biometric sensors which recorded data about the development of the trees and now thanks to the results the go-ahead has been given to large scale fungus inoculation in order to boost the ecosystems composed of trees. It is possible that this will also be applied to species other than the linden.

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