What are mycorrhizal fungi?
- Mycorrhiza literally means “fungus root”
- These are beneficial fungi found in undisturbed soils
- These fungi form a symbiotic, mutually beneficial relationship with 90% of all plant roots
- The host plant receives mineral nutrients from the fungus
- The fungus obtains sugars from the host plant
- There are several types of mycorrhizal associations
- The most commonly encountered are the arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi.
How do they function?
- The fungus grows by means of fungal filaments called hyphae
- The filaments grow both inside and outside of the roots
- The fungus is intimately associated with the plant roots
- Providing a link between the soil and the plant
- They extend the plant rooting system improving root functions
- They allow for better exploitation of the soil environment
- They increase surface area available for nutrient uptake
- They make nutrients soluble which are normally not accessible to plant roots
- They influence the soil environment covered by the fungal filaments
- Encouraging growth of beneficial bacteria and other non disease causing fungi
- They ward off unwanted organisms which can cause plants diseases
- Such as eelworms and root rot
- They produce a biological glue
- That promotes soil stability and increases moisture penetration and aeration of the soil
Characteristic AM fungal structures formed within the roots of a host plant.
A= finely branched arbuscules formed within plant cells.
V=vesicle produced by some AM fungi required for storage of carbon compounds.
IRH = intraradical hyphae growing between the root cells.
These structures are only visible once the roots have been specially prepared in the Mycoroot laboratory and are visible under a high powered microscope.
So what is the problem?
Unfortunately because soil and the beneficial organisms in this environment are not regarded as a valuable resource, disturbance, land degradation and application of chemical inputs, particularly those containing high levels of phosphates, and the non-discriminate use of some pesticides, have resulted in depleted natural populations.
So what is the solution?
In order to maximize the benefits from these AM fungi, have the mycorrhizal status of your soil tested (this is a free service to clients of Mycoroot) and apply Mycoroot to replace the populations in the soil.