Mycorrhizal symbiosis is, above all, nutritious relation between a fungus and a plant. In exchange for part of carbohydrates which a fungus collects from the root of a plant, it gains substantial aid in accessing nutritious elements in the soil.
The most important function of mycorrhizal fungi is their ability to build a “bridge” connecting the plant to the soil: hyphae of the fungi penetrate and colonize roots of a plant on one hand, on the other hand – they establish direct contact to the soil.
Thanks to a 1000-fold increase in the soil-penetrating abilities of the fungi-root system of the host plant, the flow of water and nutritious elements improves substantially, enhancing growth opportunities of the plant. By building a balance of mutual nutrition, mycorrhizal plants are more vivacious and competitive in conquering their ecosystems than plants without mycorrhiza.
Better survivability and robustness of plants is also supported by several other functions of mycorrhiza:
passive and active protection of root system against soil diseases
modifications of biotic environment in the root system
aggregating soil particles – which also fertilizes the soil
Mycorrhiza is a natural phenomenon, but under conditions of garden or nursery production of plants it is often eliminated by utilization of synthetic or sterilized growth backing and chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Mycorrhiza is the most natural and environment-friendly way to increase growth and vivacity of plants.
Andrzej Księżniak, Ph.D.
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