They create a dynamically-efficient means of capturing, converting, and recycling nutrients for use by plants that has existed for millions of years.
They also promote environmental resistance to disease, pests, heat and drought - through their critical role in nutrient cycling, mediating plant stress and protecting against transplant shock.
Some fungi colonize a “host” plant’s root system and spread their filaments into the surrounding soil far beyond the reach of the root hairs and access up to a thousand times more soil, retrieving otherwise inaccessible sources of nutrients and water.
These webs also “bioprotect” plants from soil-borne pathogens such as species of Phytophthora, Pythium, Aphanomyces, Cylindrocladium, Fusarium, Macrophomina, Rhizoctonia, Sclerotinium, Verticillium, Thielaviopsis, and various nematodes.
Other fungi create protective shields around plant roots.
Still other fungi provide other essential services; our Soluble Mycorrhizae has Laccaria bicolor, a fungi that hunts and traps insects in the soil, such as springtails who often eat other mycorrhizae.
Photo Credit: Fungi Perfecti 2016