Mycorrhiza is the mutually beneficial exchange between plants and fungi that takes place underground. The interconnections between fungal mycelium and plant roots is perhaps one the most vital symbiotic relationships for life on Earth. Once mycelium fills the tight spaces between plants roots, it can exchange nutrients like phosphorous and nitrogen in exchange for sugars that the plants produce.
What Is Mycelium?
Mycelium is the subgroup of bacteria that spreads in thin (thinner than plant roots) wiry branches underground. Mycelium has been likened to the underground root systems that connect communities of plants together. However, mycelium branches are made of groups of hyphae, which are the primary means of growth for fungal lifeforms. Hyphae allows nutrients to be assimilated from various sources. Mycelium provides the protein glomalin which acts as a binding agent for soil, making its aggregate particles stick together and more resistant to rain or wind erosion. By enhancing soil health, glomalin makes plants more likely to grow through adverse conditions. Farmers often use glomalin to improve crop production and increase water retention in plant roots. As if that weren’t good enough, glomalin may also aid in carbon dioxide (CO2) absorption in soils and plants by enhancing overall water retention.