The Underground Jungle

Speaker:  Pieter Severynen

When: October 14th @ 10 a.m.

Where: Multipurpose Room, Veterans Memorial Building 4117 Overland Ave., Culver City 90230

Most people have only a very limited concept of what takes place underground when they plant and care for a fruit tree or an orchard; as a result they do not have enough information to make the best decisions. In this talk Landscape Architect, Consulting Arborist, Southern California Fruit Tree Expert, and Storyteller Pieter Severynen will illustrate and explore cutting edge insights in what happens below the surface in ‘The Underground Jungle’, a term for the fiercely competitive, microbial rich underworld playing out in the soil volume occupying the space between the earth surface and the bedrock below. Pieter will follow the Sugar Trail, starting with the manufacture of sugars through photosynthesis in the leaves, and ending in their handover by the plant to the protective mycorrhizal fungi that have been wrapping around tree roots for hundreds of millions of years; he will outline the reciprocal services provided by the mycorrhizae to the host plant; and the interactions between the millions of commonly occurring bacteria, viruses, fungi, nematodes, archaea, protozoa, slime molds, algae, gastropods, arthropods, earthworms, and higher animals in turn attracted either to the original feeding troughs around the microscopic root systems or as higher level predators. He will show which actors in the underground food web are harmful, which ones beneficial and the ones that can be either. Using the most up to date scientific insights, he will explain which cultural management practices are most beneficial in orchard and vegetable garden, and why, making the speech as practical as it is informational. Most of the photographs in this richly illustrated ‘Underground Jungle’ talk are unknown to the public; many were generated by electron microscope. As one reviewer of an earlier segment of the speech noted: ‘This Is National Geographic Meets Storytelling’.