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Mycorrhizal Relationships

12-15-15 white pine 047The woods are filled with all kinds of plants – herbaceous and woody, flowering and non-flowering. Each plant appears to be independent of all others, but this is an illusion. In fact, most of the plants in a forest are physically connected to one another. How and why this is so is a little known fact.

Fungal threads called hyphae (the subterranean body of a fungus that we don’t usually see) run throughout the soil. Each one is ten times finer than a plant’s root hair. While some are digesting dead organic matter, others are forming a relationship with photosynthetic plants. This mutually beneficial relationship between fungi and plants is referred to as mycorrhizal.

The very fine fungal threads are capable of penetrating plant cells, allowing the fungus to receive sugars that the photosynthetic plant has manufactured. At the same time, the fungus provides the plant with minerals (especially phosphates) it has garnered from the soil. Nearly all plants have mycorrhizal fungi wrapped in or around their roots, and many of these plants cannot live without their fungal partners. The real work of a plant’s roots may well be to serve as the connector to this network of fungal hyphae that exists in the soil. (photo: Eastern White Pine,Pinus strobus)

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3 responses

  1. Bill On The Hill...

    This inter-relationship of all plant life within our woodland realm reminds me of the movie Avatar,on the planet Pandora, inhabited by the Na’vi, whom are interconnected with all forms of life, be it plant or animal…
    Bill… :~) WGF Studio53

    December 15, 2015 at 12:07 pm

  2. Marv Elliott

    On our trip to washington and Oregon (rain forest) las year we learned of the interrelationship between the trees and the wide variety of plants that make their homes on the trees limbs. What was at first thought to be a parasitic (one way) relationship has been discovered to be two ways. The hitchhikers on the limbs get and give back to actually help. this reminds me of that and I am reminded of our web of life.

    December 15, 2015 at 10:07 pm

  3. We are all One! 🙂

    December 15, 2015 at 11:42 pm

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