Mycorrhizal Fungi: Hidden Partner in the Soil Food Web

For the next couple of weeks, we will look at mycorrhizal fungi and their role in the soil food web. They are extremely important characters, as they colonize plant roots and extend deep into the soil. True extensions of root systems, they are more effective in nutrient and water absorption than the roots themselves. In fact, more than 90 percent of plant species form a symbiotic relationship with the mycorrhizae.

Mycorrhizal fungi

For Heidelberg Farms, one of the things we try to establish in your lawn and garden is this fungi. If we can get them established in your lawn, they can pull more resources from the healthier parts of the lawn and in effect bypass bad soil.

This fungi produces a substance called glomalin, which is responsible for sequestering a lot of carbon in the soil. By sequestering carbon, we combat climate change. See, they are pretty important!

When we mentioned a symbiotic relationship before, we meant that both plants and mycorrhizal fungi mutually receive benefits by working together. The fungi colonize the root system of a host plant and provide increased water and nutrient absorption capabilities. In return, a host plant provides mycorrhizae with carbohydrates formed from photosynthesis. Mycorrhizae also protect plants from certain pathogens.

History of Mycorrhizal Fungi

This fungi has been around for a very long time, according to research. Mycorrhizal associations have been found in the fossil record and are most likely one of the factors that enabled early land plants to conquer the land.

Currently, seven types of mycorrhizal fungi are recognized. Honestly, it gets pretty complex, so we won’t get into the specifics here. Suffice to say, however, that this fungi has also been found to recolonize very slowly. What this means is that once these systems are destroyed, they have a hard time forming again. Sadly, a lot of what we do as humans tends to destroy them.

Frankly, we have only provided a very broad overview here, which is why we will go into greater detail in upcoming blogs. The takeaway here is that mycorrhizal fungi are extremely important, but lille known characters in the soil food web. By better understanding their role, our hope is people can begin to appreciate why it is important to garden organically.

Have questions? Call Heidelberg Farms at (603) 501-9919. Mention this blog and we will take 10 percent off our organic lawn care program package that runs from spring through fall. Let’s take care of the earth together.

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