Last updated on October 23rd, 2023 at 08:55 pm
The word mushroom immediately evokes the undergrowth and the promise of a discovery walk, or even a greedy picking. However, their role in nature is less known. However, there is an alliance between fungi and the root system of plants. How do trees benefit from this?
Mycorrhizal fungi colonize the root system of plants and develop a symbiotic association called “mycorrhiza” (myco, fungus in Greek) and rhize (root). These bio-organisms attach themselves to the roots of newly planted plants and naturally enter into symbiosis with them through the mycelium – the perennial part of the fungi. The mycelium, composed of a set of fine filaments called hyphae, will surround the rootlets to form a fungal mantle and thus facilitate the assimilation of nutrients drawn from the soil, such as mineral salts and water.
Some edible fungi, such as truffles, belong to the group of mycorrhizal fungi.
Mushroom-tree symbiosis: what benefits?
By amplifying the branching of tree roots, mycorrhizae allow for faster growth of the trees and more abundant flowering and fruiting. Benefiting from the mycelium, trees become more resistant to diseases and external aggressions, and have a better tolerance to drought. In return, the tree (or the plant) provides carbohydrates and other nutrients to the fungi. This is called symbiosis or mycorrhizal alliance. Mycorrhizae, these natural “fungi”, also enrich the soil by facilitating the development of other micro-organisms necessary for the trees and the soil’s equilibrium, generating a mutualization of resources below and above ground.
Mycorrhizae and fertilizers enriched with mycorrhizae are sold in garden centers, in powder form. They can be used during planting to enrich the soil if it is too poor.