The term “mycorrhiza” combines the Greek words mukés (fungus) and rhiza (root). Mycorrhiza is the association between a fungus and a plant root with benefits for both partners. In this symbiosis the plant contributes carbohydrates that are indispensable to the survival of the fungus whereas the fungus channels soil nutrients to the roots and aids the plant in obtaining water.
The way mycorrhizae work
Some plants cannot survive without the presence of mycorrhizal fungi in their root system. Most plant species can live without mycorrhizae but thrive much better when the fungus is present. Very few species do not need the symbiosis or will not even become mycorrhizal, such as most members of the brassica family (cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage).
Mycorrhizal fungi explore the soil through hyphae that act as their "roots". They are extremely thin and penetrate in fissures and microscopic soil cavities where they find minerals that the plant has not been able to access or make use of. With the help of rhizobacteria the mycorrhizae solubilize these nutrients and channel them to the plant´s root system..
The nutrient source for the fungus comes from the plant. If some external factor diminishes this source the mycorrhizal fungus becomes more active and aggressive in the quest for nutrients in the soil. This is the reason why the plant benefits especially when exposed to environmental stress. Whatever problem the plant faces - drought, heat, high degrees of salinity, wind, fire, frost, parasites or other pathogens - mycorrhizae have evolved to mitigate these adverse conditions. The mycorrhizal association is a natural phenomenon that plants have benefited from for over four hundred millon years.
The importance of Inoculation
This important part of a plant’s absorption system has been ignored almost completely by traditional agriculture and tree nurseries. In the past little attention has been paid to the topic of mycorrhizae in agriculture at university level and in technical schools. Forestry nurseries and providers of germinated vegetable plants have neglected the natural state of the plants they produce because of pressures to churn out large quantities of plants at low cost. These plants are not completely fit to withstand the adverse conditions they encounter after transplant. Nonmycorrhizal plants are almost always more fragile and can die if they are not constantly maintained under intensive care.
The environmental conditions in an agricultural monoculture or commercial forestry plantations are not optimal. Frequently, the transplant causes a major trauma for seedlings and young plants. Normally, there is a lack of water, but there are many additional factors that can pose an important source of stress, such as heat, an inopportune moment in the season for transplant and adverse soil conditions.
Most plants that are produced in germination trays and nurseries lack a sufficient natural protection by beneficial microorganisms. When microorganisms are not at equilibrium, the natural minerals present in the soil cannot be used. Mycorrhizal roots establish themselves faster and their nutrient uptake is more complete.
Different types of mycorrhizae
There are various types of mycorrhizae. Our firm supplies fungi that form endomycorrhizae.
An endomycorrhizal fungus forms hyphae that penetrate the cell walls of plant roots. The hyphae closely align to the membranes of the plant cells and form balloon-like vesicles. They branche out manifold to develop big surface areas dedicated to the exchange of minerals and carbohydrates. These structures gave rise to the name "arbuscular mycorrhizae" or AM (formerly known as "vesicular- arbuscular mycorrhizae"). Usually, an endomycorrhizal root cannot be easily distinguished from a nonmycorrhizal root without the help of a microscope and special dying techniques.
Our products contain fungal strains that readily form endomycorrhizal associations with a wide range of plant species. They are combined with other beneficial fungi (Trichoderma), beneficial bacteria and bioestimulants, such as fulvic acids, soluble kelp and yucca extracts and organic soil conditioners to boost fast microbial growth. The results are higher survival and growth rates and less need for watering.
Endomicorrizal spores from Incubation
TNI´s endomycorrhizal fungal spores are produced under the sterile conditions of a laboratory by incubation. This represents a remarkable technical advance because traditionally these fungi have been produced inside the roots of plants. The production in modern industrial incubation chambers offers several advantages over the tradional system:
1. The inoculum is pure and never contaminated with other microorganisms. This is especially important for the success of high tech vegetable cultures, such as hydroponic tomatoes.
2. The spores are well separated from each other which allows for a homogenous dispersal between the cavities of germination trays. This gives the fungus an opportunity to come in contact with more seedlings in a germination tray. As a result, more plants are mycorrhizal by the time they are transplanted into the field.
3. The product is easy to dilute in water and apply: 85% of the spores have a diameter of 100 microns or less (0.1mm) which makes it possible to apply the inoculum through irrigation systems.