Updated: Jun 2
The Greek word for fungus is myco and for root is rhiza. So Mycorrhiza means fungus root. So both Mycorrhizae and Mycorrhizas for the fungus root plural are correct.
If you think the world-wide web is extensive, think again. You might have heard that the largest living organism on earth is the Mycorrhizae. We walk across them every day. This organism links plants to fungi which help the transfer of nutrients and basically provides the communication web for all plants.
The messages sent are warnings, alerts of needs and reciprocal offerings. Many mycorrhizae extend the functions of plant roots to transport much needed nutrients to plant life via threadlike tubes called hyphae. In return, the fungus receives sugars produced by the plants via photosynthesis. A match for sure. (See Lace Lichen blog for more on fungus role in lichen).
After the infamous asteroid caused a cataclysmic explosion off the Yucatan Peninsula 66 million years ago--rendering the earth's living organisms on the surface almost dead for several years--the few survivors underground were the Mycorrhizae. Since the world was dark and Mycorrhizae don't depend upon light to thrive, they continued helping plants to survive.
This partnership has lasted throughout time and still functions very well. Mycorrhizal fungi form symbiotic relationships with an incredible 95 percent of all plants! I know I'm helping them work their magic in my gardens with worm casting tea which is rich in humic acid and mycorrhizae.
The hyphae of the Mycorrhizae transport phosphorous, copper and zinc from the soil to the plant roots. Some of our plants that suffered through winter are rejuvenated after just one application. Mycorrhizae are said to boost nutrient uptake by up to 100 times than without them. They can, during drought, keep plants alive by extracting water from rocks, even from granite!
Magical Mycorrhizae also increase immunity in plants and carry chemical messages. Warnings of aphid infestations are transported by this network and plants--as yet uninfested--actually respond to warnings from neighboring plants by producing chemicals that repel anticipated aphid attacks. In addition the chemicals attract aphid-eating wasps!
Mycorrhizae help balance our woodland by equalizing the wealthy plants with the poor ones. I discovered that where our soil is rich in humic acid by spotting a larkspur--which is normally found only in a milder climate. Unbelievably, it found its niche among protected volcanic rocks, moist soil and a shaded canopy.
We hope you enjoyed reading Barbara Phelps' blog.
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