What is Mycorrhiza?
“Mycor” – “rhiza” literally means “fungus” – “root” and defines the mutually beneficial relationship between the plant and root fungus. These specialized fungi colonize plant roots and extend far into the soil. Mycorrhizal fungal filmaments in the soil are truly extensions of root systems and are more effective in nutrient and water absorption than roots itself. 95% of the worlds plants form a relationship with mycorrhiza.
What do they do for plants?
These Mycorrhizal fungi increase the surface absorbing area of roots 10 to 1,000 times, thereby greatly improving the ability of the plants to use the soil resource. Estimates of amounts of mycorrhizal filaments present in soil associated with plants are astonishing. Several miles of fungal filaments can be present in less than a thimbleful of soil. But mycorrhizal fungi increase nutrient uptake not only by increasing the surface absorbing area of roots. Mycorrhizal fungi release powerful enzymes into the soil that dissolve hard-to-capture nutrients, such as phosphorus, iron and other “tightly bound” soil nutrients. This extraction process is particularly important in plant nutrition and explains why non-mycorrhizal plants require high levels of fertility to maintain their health. Mycorrhizal fungi form an intricate web that captures and assimilates nutrients, conserving the nutrient capital in soils.
- Improved nutrient and water uptake
- Improved root growth
- improved plant growth and yield
- Reduced transplant shock
- Reduced Drought Stress
- More flowers + fruit
What other functions do Mycorrhizal fungi perform?
Mycorrhizal fungi are involved with a wide variety of activities that benefit plant establishment and growth. The same extensive network of fungal filaments important to nutrient uptake is also important in water uptake and storage. In non-irregated conditions, mycorrhizal plants are under far less drought stress compared to non-mycorrhizal plants. Mycorrhizal filaments also produce humic compounds and organic “glues” (extra cellular polysaccharides) that bind soils into aggregates and improve soil porosity. Soil porosity and soil structure positively influence the growth of plants by promoting aeration, water movement into soil and root growth and distribution. Many practical benefits can be expected from using Mycorrhizal fungi in common practices.