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To that end, scientists have been exploring another method. It is thought that inoculating young trees with fungi could accelerate the ageing process even more.eos crypto originMysterious fungi

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I bat a mosquito away as it homes in on my flesh. "Mosquitos love me," I say. Lynne Boddy, professor of fungal ecology at Cardiff University who is guiding me through the ancient woods of the Wye Valley, tells me it is because I give off the same scent as fungi, which do it to attract insects. Perhaps we have more in common with fungi than we realise.Neither plant nor animal, fungi are in a class of their own. They are found in all parts of the world and but, still, we know relatively little about them. As of today, 148,000 species have been identified but scientists believe that more than 90% of species remain unknown.We do know, however, that they play a vital role in our ecosystems. Fungi decompose dead material into the building blocks of new soil. Fungi can also break down living material too – including trees. Fungi are the main drivers of wood decay, and a crucial resource for many invertebrates is a living tree with columns of fungal decay in the heartwood.Heart-rot fungi only move in when trees are mature, feeding on the dead wood at the centre of an ancient tree. When holes begin to form, the wood softens then insects and other species such as woodpeckers are able to excavate it further. Over time, a hollow forms and the cavity floor is lined with wood mould, a rich soil-like mulch."Heart-rot species are key," says Rutter. "These fungi are able to break down the lignin, the very hard part of the wood which is normally incredibly indigestible. Many heart-rot fungi happily eat the central dead wood without harming the living tissue on the outside – and can co-exist with a tree for 600 or 700 years. We want a tree to live a long time so the habitats can continue for as long as possible."

To try and mimic this process in younger trees, Ancients of the Future is growing heart-rot fungi on blocks of wood in the lab, inserting the blocks into holes cut in young trees and recovering them with bark. They are left that way for a few years, then the blocks are removed to see if the fungi have taken hold inside the tree.The project is not the first to try this technique – fungi inoculation has been trialled before in North America where researchers found that fungal inoculation could reduce decay time from 100 years to just three when used in combination with traditional methods.Veteranisation is the practice of damaging younger trees in order to initiate decay sooner than it would occur naturally. The hope is that habitats usually seen in older trees will begin to develop much earlier. Veteranisation is not new, explains Rutter, but it is not well documented. Only recently has research been initiated to monitor the success of veteranisation techniques.

An international trial, started in 2012 and set over 20 sites in Sweden, England and Norway, is in the process of evaluating the veteranisation of almost 1,000 oak trees. The methods applied include creating woodpecker-like holes, breaking or ringbarking lower branches or the trunk to mimic damage from animals such as deer or horses, and creating nest boxes for birds and bats. The project is planned to take 25 years, until 2037, so the results have yet to be fully analysed."The signs are very promising," said Rutter. "Most of the trees are responding well, healing and continuing to grow. Birds, bats and insects have all been found living in the artificially created niches."Back in the UK, Ancients of the Future has been trialling these same methods on beech and oak trees. Rutter says, after two years, cavities are starting to appear. "Normally, you’d have to wait for a lightning strike or a limb falling off for the decaying process to start. That can take hundreds of years. These are vigorous, young trees and niches are already beginning to develop."The violet click beetle, present at just three sites in the UK, is the main target of Skipp’s study. They require wet wood mould at the base of beech trees. Skipp has been installing beetle boxes for them – wooden structures designed to mimic hollows that form at the base of ancient trees. The boxes have an entrance at ground level and are filled with decaying wood, similar to the nutrient-rich wood mould that you might find naturally.

"This beetle requires high-quality habitats," she says. "So by protecting it, you are conserving important features that benefit a whole suite of other species too."Beyond their usefulness, says Skipp, deadwood beetles exhibit some fascinating diversity. Some have evolved flat bodies, allowing them to live in the ultra-thin cracks behind tree bark. Others are perfectly cylindrical, so they can create and pass through complex tunnels in the wood "like a tube train trundling through the London Underground".

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Parfitt adds: "Invertebrates need deadwood in different tree species and in different forms. So, it’s important to veteranise the trees in different ways."To that end, scientists have been exploring another method. It is thought that inoculating young trees with fungi could accelerate the ageing process even more.Mysterious fungiI bat a mosquito away as it homes in on my flesh. "Mosquitos love me," I say. Lynne Boddy, professor of fungal ecology at Cardiff University who is guiding me through the ancient woods of the Wye Valley, tells me it is because I give off the same scent as fungi, which do it to attract insects. Perhaps we have more in common with fungi than we realise.

Neither plant nor animal, fungi are in a class of their own. They are found in all parts of the world and but, still, we know relatively little about them. As of today, 148,000 species have been identified but scientists believe that more than 90% of species remain unknown.We do know, however, that they play a vital role in our ecosystems. Fungi decompose dead material into the building blocks of new soil. Fungi can also break down living material too – including trees. Fungi are the main drivers of wood decay, and a crucial resource for many invertebrates is a living tree with columns of fungal decay in the heartwood.Heart-rot fungi only move in when trees are mature, feeding on the dead wood at the centre of an ancient tree. When holes begin to form, the wood softens then insects and other species such as woodpeckers are able to excavate it further. Over time, a hollow forms and the cavity floor is lined with wood mould, a rich soil-like mulch."Heart-rot species are key," says Rutter. "These fungi are able to break down the lignin, the very hard part of the wood which is normally incredibly indigestible. Many heart-rot fungi happily eat the central dead wood without harming the living tissue on the outside – and can co-exist with a tree for 600 or 700 years. We want a tree to live a long time so the habitats can continue for as long as possible."

To try and mimic this process in younger trees, Ancients of the Future is growing heart-rot fungi on blocks of wood in the lab, inserting the blocks into holes cut in young trees and recovering them with bark. They are left that way for a few years, then the blocks are removed to see if the fungi have taken hold inside the tree.The project is not the first to try this technique – fungi inoculation has been trialled before in North America where researchers found that fungal inoculation could reduce decay time from 100 years to just three when used in combination with traditional methods.

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Boddy explains why this new method of veteranisation may work better than previous methods: "We’re putting the fungi we want where we want it, rather than just hoping it turns up."She explains that the hollowing of ancient trees by fungal decay, previously seen as detrimental, is a natural part of the ageing process and can even prolong the lives of trees, feeding them nutrients from the inside.

Boddy's team has been using a new, minimally damaging DNA sampling technique to analyse the inoculated wood. It means the researchers are able to take a much smaller sample from the tree and get much more detailed information."Fungi are all around us," says Boddy. "Inside every tree trunk, every leaf, every stem, every bit of plant that’s decaying on the floor, in the soil beneath our feet. But we can’t see them which makes studying them very difficult. Now that we can extract DNA we can see exactly what’s there."Boddy is optimistic that fungal inoculation could help speed up the ageing process, and that it's possible to bridge the gap between the ancient trees of today and those of the future. But it’s still too soon to tell. Variables such as tree and fungus species, and climate change will have an impact. And we still know very little about heart-rot – how fungi get inside a tree in the first place, how their communities change over time or how that affects decay.These efforts are also a temporary fix. So, what can we do differently to ensure we never see a generational gap like this again? The Ancient Tree Forum offers land owners advice on how to care for their ancient trees – putting up barriers to protect them from livestock, clearing nearby vegetation that is competing for light, creating a root protection zone and propping up heavy limbs or bracing ageing trunks.The Woodland Trust calls for full legal protection for all ancient trees to prevent further loss, and enforcement of government urban development policies that prevent encroachment on ancient woodlands. Such woodlands could be identified through inventories and more research done into the buffers necessary to protect ancient woodlands from nearby development sites.In the context of the global biodiversity crisis, with many species in sharp decline, the intricate worlds inside ancient trees might seem like a small piece of the puzzle. But without the unique habitats provided by ancient trees, the health of the wider forest ecosystem – from fungi to butterflies – could be compromised.

"We need to think beyond our own lifetimes and look after the trees we’ve got now, to give them a chance to grow into ancients," says Rutter. "Trees are fragile, complex chemical factories and major hubs for biodiversity. Without them, many species won’t survive."--

The emissions from travel it took to report this story were 4.8kg CO2, travelling by car. The digital emissions from this story are an estimated 1.2g to 3.6g CO2 per page view. Find out more about how we calculated this figure here.Aaron Jones honoured his late father by scoring four touchdowns as the Green Bay Packers beat the Detroit Lions.

Last season's Most Valuable Player Aaron Rodgers threw for four touchdowns as Green Bay fought back to win 35-17.The government is poised to step in to tackle the gas price crisis and carbon dioxide shortage, Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has said.

The move comes as rising wholesale gas costs are forcing smaller providers out of business.Mr Kwarteng told the BBC that lending money to bigger firms to help them take on stranded customers was an option.He also said the government could subsidise the country's biggest carbon dioxide producer to bolster supplies.The firm, CF Industries, has halted production at two UK plants because rising gas costs, caused by higher demand due to cold weather in Europe and Asia, have made them unviable.

Carbon dioxide is essential to the frozen food industry and the shortage has raised fears of more gaps in grocery supplies.Mr Kwarteng said he had spoken twice to CF Industries' chief executive and was looking at ways to ensure production would resume "as quickly as possible", including subsidies.

However, he ruled out nationalising the company, saying he was "averse" to the idea.Mr Kwarteng denied that failed energy companies would get government bailouts, saying: "I do not think it's the right thing for taxpayers' money to be injected into companies that have been badly run."

However, he said the government was exploring the possibility of lending money to bigger energy firms to help them absorb the cost of taking on new customers from companies that had gone bust."If we do have this policy, they will be expected to pay back the loans," he added.

Limits on how much energy firms charge customers will stay, the government and the energy regulator have said, despite the price of wholesale gas reaching record highs.On Monday, Mr Kwarteng and energy regulator Ofgem dismissed suggestions that the cap on energy prices would be lifted, saying that keeping it was the "clear and agreed position".Customers on some tariffs are protected from sudden hikes in wholesale gas prices through the energy price cap.This limits how much firms can charge per unit of gas.

The price cap covers 15 million households across England, Wales and Scotland.Customers will still continue to receive gas or electricity even if the energy supplier goes bust. Ofgem will move your account to a new supplier, but it may take a few weeks. Your new supplier should then contact you to explain what is happening with your account

While you wait to hear from your new supplier: check your current balance and - if possible - download any bills; take a photo of your meter readingIf you pay by direct debit, there is no need to cancel it straight away, Citizens Advice says. Wait until your new account is set up before you cancel it

If you are in credit, your money is protected and you'll be paid back. If you were in debt to the old supplier, you'll still have to pay the money back to your new supplier insteadOn Monday, Mr Kwarteng dismissed fears of energy shortages, saying: "There is absolutely no question of the lights going out or people being unable to heat their homes."

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Perspectives of a 2x entrepreneur turned VC at @UpfrontVC#

Mark Suster

Written by

2x entrepreneur. Sold both companies (last to salesforce.com). Turned VC looking to invest in passionate entrepreneurs 〞 I*m on Twitter at @msuster

Both Sides of the Table

Perspectives of a 2x entrepreneur turned VC at @UpfrontVC, the largest and most active early-stage fund in Southern California. Snapchat: msuster

Mark Suster

Written by

2x entrepreneur. Sold both companies (last to salesforce.com). Turned VC looking to invest in passionate entrepreneurs 〞 I*m on Twitter at @msuster

Both Sides of the Table

Perspectives of a 2x entrepreneur turned VC at @UpfrontVC, the largest and most active early-stage fund in Southern California. Snapchat: msuster