What is the example of mycorrhizae

Mycorrhiza: the secret of beautiful plants

Mycorrhizal fungi are fungi that connect underground with the roots of plants and form a community with them, a so-called symbiosis, which has many advantages for the fungi, but especially for the plants. The name Mycorrhiza comes from ancient Greek and means, when translated, mushroom root ("Myko" = mushroom; "Rhiza" = root). The mushroom was named after Albert Bernhard Frank (1839–1900), a German biologist who studied the physiology of plants.

Anyone who goes to a garden center today sees more and more products with added mycorrhiza, be it soil or fertilizer. With these products you can also bring the valuable mushrooms into your own garden and support the plants in the garden with their help. Here you can find out how the community between mycorrhizal fungi and plants works and how you can strengthen your plants with mycorrhizal fungi.

This is how the symbiosis between mycorrhizal fungus and plant works

Around a third of the large mushrooms growing in our forests are mycorrhizal fungi and around three quarters of all plant species like to form a community with them. Because from such a symbiosis both the fungus and the plant derive their advantages. For example, the fungus cannot photosynthesize underground, which is why it lacks essential carbohydrates (sugar). He gets these carbohydrates through the connection with the plant roots. In return, the plant receives water and nutrients (phosphorus, nitrogen) from the fungal network, since the mycorrhizal fungi can better develop nutrient and water resources in the soil. This is mainly due to the very thin cell threads of the mushrooms, which are also called hyphae and are arranged in the form of a network. The hyphae are much thinner than the roots of the plant and accordingly extend into the smallest pores in the soil. In this way, the plant receives all the nutrients that the fungus does not need to live itself.

Different connections between plant and fungus

1. Ecto-mycorrhiza

Ecto-mycorrhiza are mainly found on trees and shrubs from the temperate zone such as spruce, pine or larch, but they are also sometimes found in subtropical and tropical tree species. Ecto-mycorrhiza is characterized by the formation of a mantle or network (Hartig’s network) of hyphae around the root. The fungal hyphae penetrate the cortical tissue of the root, but not into the cells. Above ground, the ecto-mycorrhiza can be recognized with their - sometimes tasty - fruiting bodies. The main purpose of the ecto-mycorrhiza is to decompose organic material.

2. Endo-mycorrhiza

Another form of connection between fungus and plant is the endo-mycorrhiza. It mostly occurs on herbaceous plants such as flowers, vegetables and fruit, but also on woody plants. In contrast to the ecto-mycorrhiza, it does not form a network between the cells, but penetrates into them with its hyphae without causing damage. In the root cells, tree-like structures (arbuscules) can be seen, in which the nutrient transfer between fungus and plant takes place.

Beautiful plants thanks to mycorrhizal fungi

For decades, researchers have been interested in the precise functioning of mycorrhizal fungi. Although not all the riddles have been solved by a long way, more and more studies confirm the positive effects of fungi on plants. Nowadays it is assumed that a symbiosis with mushrooms makes a plant grow better, helps it to flower longer and produce more fruits. In addition, the plant becomes more stress-resistant to drought, high salt content or heavy metal pollution and more resistant to diseases and pests. While some mycorrhizal fungi (for example larch boletus, oak irritator) are host-specific (tied to a certain tree species), there are also plants that do not engage in a symbiosis at all. These symbiosis refusers include cabbage, spinach, lupins and rhubarb.

Use mycorrhizal fungi in your own garden

Which hobby gardener does not dream of beautiful, disease-resistant plants in their own garden? To meet this need, garden centers nowadays offer a variety of products with mycorrhizal additives that are said to work wonders. The good thing about it: It is a biological process that is promoted with completely natural means. At first glance, there is nothing to be said against the use of mycorrhizal fungi, because they cannot harm the plants in the garden with them. Often, however, these products are used unnecessarily and then have no noteworthy positive effects. Because a biologically fertilized and well-supplied garden soil usually naturally contains enough fungi. If you mulch your garden, regularly supply compost and keep your hands off chemical agents, you generally do not need any products with mycorrhizal fungi. On the other hand, it makes sense to use it on depleted floors that you would like to use again.

If you decide to use mycorrhizal products in your garden, there are a number of conditions that should be met in order for the plants and fungi to form a connection. In general, the granules should be applied close to the roots. When planting a new plant, the granules are best placed in the planting hole. If you want to combine your potted plants with mycorrhizal fungi, mix the granules into the potting soil.

Tip: Fertilize sparingly and organically, this increases the chances of a compound. Even so, you must be aware that there is no guarantee that the fungus and the plant will go together. This also depends on many other factors, such as the type of soil, temperature, humidity and nutrient content.