What You Need to Know About Mycorrhizae
If Mother Nature has her own wonder drug, it’s probably Mycorrhizae.
This is a fungus found almost everywhere in nature and it serves as a catalyst for growth in nearly every form of plant life. Oak, pine, and spruce are just a few of the trees that are helped by Mycorrhizae. The growth of flowers, like orchids, as well as fruits and vegetables are also aided by this fungus.
HOW DOES MYCORRHIZAE WORK?
In a symbiotic relationship, the fungus inoculates and colonizes the root of the plant. As the fungus need the same water and nutrients as the plants themselves, absorption is enhanced to ensure the plant gets what it needs. In return, the plant supplies the fungus with carbohydrates, which are produced through photosynthesis.
Additionally, the fungus boosts protection for the host plant against several types of pathogens. This increases the chances of survival for the plant, making sure the fungus has a home.
In fact, this symbiotic relationship is present in nearly every type of plant life. Research has found that nearly 90% of all plants benefit from a Mycorrhizae presence. Scientists have even found Mycorrhizae present in fossils, suggesting that the fungus helped plant life first thrive on land.
WHY SHOULD YOU ATTEMPT TO INCREASE THE PRESENCE OF MYCORRHIZAE?
As heterotropic organisms, Mycorrhizae must absorb their food, but they also have the capability of absorbing other elements. Some of those elements, such as phosphorus and nitrogen, are essential to the existence of all plant life. However, plants produce their own carbohydrates and, therefore, can’t always derive enough of those elements from the soil.
This is where the colonization of the plant roots benefits both the plant and the mycorrhizae.
In exchange for sharing its supply of carbohydrates, the plant receives a portion of the phosphorous and nitrogen collected by the fungus. When the mycorrhizae colonizes the roots of the plant, it expands the capacity of the roots to collect water and nutrients. This ensures both the fungus and the plant get everything they need to thrive.
By introducing mycorrhizae into your rhizosphere or allowing them to flourish naturally, you’re giving your plants their best chances to thrive and produce.
NEGATIVE SPREAD IN URBAN SPRAWL
Unfortunately, urban sprawl plays a part in the spread of mycorrhizae as well and can have a disastrous effect on the ecosystem. Particularly, the act of digging and relocating soil by construction crews also transports the mycorrhizae fungus. When this happens, plant growth can be affected in unpredictable ways. Areas that should be teeming with vegetation can be rendered virtually barren, while areas sparsely populated with plant life could see a sudden growth spurt.
This may not seem like a cause for concern, but it can cause humanitarian problems down the line. For instance, a sudden growth of trees may mean water depletion for a neighboring community. For example, a growth spurt of eucalyptus trees is thought to be responsible for the recent rash of California wildfires. The trees, which are not native to the hills and fields of the state, have oily leaves which can burst into flames in extreme heat. Their dry canopies then spread the flames to the rest of the forest. Brought over from Spain, the eucalyptus trees now flourish where they were not intended to grow.