What is Mycorrhizae and Trichoderma
What Are Mycorrhizae?
These specialised fungi grow on plant roots and spread far into the soil. Mycorrhizal fungal filaments in the soil are extensions of root systems and are more effective in nutrient and water absorption than the roots themselves. More than 90 percent of plant species in natural areas form a relationship with mycorrhizal fungi enhancing the plants growth performance.
Are They Important?
Mycorrhizal fungi increase the surface absorbing area of the roots, thereby greatly improving the ability of the plant to access soil resources. Several miles of fungal filaments can be present in less than a thimbleful of soil. Mycorrhizal fungi increase nutrient uptake and also release powerful enzymes into the soil that dissolve hard-to-capture nutrients, such as organic nitrogen, phosphorus, iron and other “tightly bound” soil nutrients.
Do You Need Them?
Undisturbed soils are full of beneficial soil organisms including mycorrhizal fungi. Research indicates that many common practises can slow the mycorrhizae forming potential of soil. Studies have also indicated that endo mycorrhizal fungal populations are slow to colonise, unless there is close access to natural areas that can act as a source of mycorrhizal spores to repopulate the affected area. Reintroducing mycorrhizal fungi in areas where they have been lost can dramatically improve plant performance with less water and fertiliser and at a reduced cost.
These fungi appear in the form of colonies of mould which start out transparent, turning white or yellowish over time. When the mould matures and begins producing spores,
it darkens and turns green to grey. Many Trichoderma species have a distinctive sweet scent which is often compared to coconuts. The colony is fast growing,
and it will typically mature within five days. Trichoderma moulds tend to prefer moderate temperatures, which allows them to thrive in a variety of climates.
One of the most important functions of Trichoderma involves the moulds' tendency to develop symbiotic relationships with plants. These fungi like to grow on the roots of living plants. They promote abundant root growth therefore giving them plenty of roots to grow on. Trichoderma also eliminate other fungi so that they do not have to struggle with competitors, providing a benefit to the plants they colonise. Some farmers and gardeners add Trichoderma to their soil before planting for the benefit of their plants.