Mycorrhizae Fungus Good For Optimal Plant GrowthMycorrhizae Fungus Good For Optimal Plant Growth
Approximately 80 to 90 percent of the plants on earth requires the presence of mycorrhizae fungus for optimal plant growth. The fossilized remains of the earliest plants found on earth show evidence of the roots of plants and mycorrhizal fungi working together 450 million years ago.
A healthy soil food web includes mycorrhizae, beneficial nematodes, protozoa, beneficial bacteria, earthworms, small animals, and arthropods to name a few. They occur naturally, in most ecosystems. However many of our activities as humans destroy or reduce their presence.
In the suburban garden our construction practices, tillage (cultivation), removal of topsoil, site preparation, compaction, leaving soil bare, heavy use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, as well as the introduction of invasive species has reduced or eliminated the populations of mycorrhizae.
Beneficial mycorrhizal fungi attach to the roots of a compatible plant. All plants have roots and root hairs serving to anchor the plant and extract some nutrients and water from the soil. The roots and root hairs, by themselves, are relatively large and not as efficient at nutrient and water extraction as you might think. The mycorrhizal fungi have tiny filaments (called hyphae), which attach to the roots, then extend from the roots effectively increasing the root surface area severalfold. These hyphae are tiny (thinner than the hairs on your hand) and a single tablespoon of soil may have several hundred meters of mycorrhizal hyphae that serve to expand the area that the plant can mine for nutrients and water.
These mycorrhizae are efficient at extracting phosphorus, zinc, copper, and water to name a few items that the mycorrhizal fungi provide to the plant. So what do the fungi get in return; we referred to it as a symbiotic relationship. The mycorrhizal fungi have no chlorophyll and so cannot create their own carbohydrates for metabolism and growth. Thus the plant provides some carbohydrates, derived from photosynthesis as repayment. A win-win relationship for the plant and the mycorrhizal fungi.
Mycorrhizal fungi are available in easy to use formulations. Simply apply directly to the root zone at the time of planting. These formulations are available for annuals, perennials, vegetables, trees, shrubs, and bulbs to name a few applications.