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Mycorrhizal Fungi

Essay by 24  •  November 17, 2010  •  657 Words (3 Pages)  •  513 Views

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1) Will the Mycorise (Mycorrhizal fungi) benefit the rain garden or prairie restoration efforts?

Well I think the best place to start is to develop a basic understanding of what a mycorrhizal fungus is and what it does. Mycorrhizal fungi are organisms that live both inside and outside root cells to help the plant out by extending long threads called "hyphae" into the soil. The hyphae essentially act as extensions of the root system. The plant in exchange gives the fungus glucose and other organic compounds that it needs to grow. The most common mycorrhizal fungi, Arbuscular Mycorrhizal, have been shown to enhance the plants nutrient uptake and disease resistance. It has also shown beneficial effects on surrounding soil by increasing the soils stability against erosion, helping maintaining soil pores for both water and air absorption, and heightening soil fertility by increasing the amount of organic matter found within. To partially answer the above question of weather or not Mycorise will benefit a rain garden or prairie restoration is a two sided answer... It all depends on scale and cost. Many mycorrhizal fungus populations have been diminished by modern agricultural practices, but companies have now started harvesting it from host plants, and incorporating it into products that home gardeners can use. (potting soil, peat moss, etc.) However, the amount that would be needed by agricultural farmers to apply to their fields is impractical; thus similar views would be placed on larger scale rain gardens and prairie restorations. On the other hand scientists are currently researching the possibility of mass producing mycorrhizal fungi to be used on a much larger scale. This process has been a tedious process, but they are taking it one step at a time. Currently researchers cannot develop the fungus without a host. The fungus depends on the host plant for the organic nutrients it needs to complete its lifecycle. Researchers have been able to discover the steps required for the fungus to be able to colonize a host plant and are in the works of forming a test that will allow them determine the exact chemical interaction between the host plant and the fungus. Once this step is completed successfully, researchers will be able to isolate pure fungus spores, feed them with the specific compounds found in the host plant, leading to the ability to develop mycorrhizal fungi away from host plants. (Core 12-13) Once this research is completed,

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