WHAT ARE MYCORRHIZAE?
Mycorrhizal root tips (image by Thergathon)
Mycorrhizae (pronounced My-cor-rye-zay) are fungi that form mutually beneficial relationships with the roots of certain plants. These fungi have mycelium that either grow either inside of a plant’s roots (Endomycorrhizae) or attach to root surfaces (Ectomycorrhizae). Both the fungi and plants benefit. The fungi benefits from the plant’s food and nutrients, and the fungi send out their hyphae (like small roots) out into the surrounding soil to absorb additional nutrients and water, which benefits the plants.
So, mycorrhizae actually enhance a plant’s ability to take up nutrients and water. Because of this, research has shown that the presence of mycorrhizae helps plants better withstand drought and some diseases. Approximately 95% of the world’s plants have some form of mycorrhizal dependence. As far as growing is concerned, in many cases, increased root and top growth occurs when plants are treated with mycorrhizae. These benefits are not always evident, especially on short term crops, unless the crop is stressed or planted into a landscape where water and nutrients are less available.
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