The 19th century was a beautiful time for scientific exploration and lead to a paradigm shift as to the way we view the natural world.
The 19th century was a beautiful time for scientific exploration and lead to a paradigm shift as to the way we view the natural world. Individuals such as Charles Darwin, Alfred Russell Wallace, Gregor Mendel and many others worked extensively making observations inevitably laying the foundation of understanding for modern scientists. In 1885 the term “mycorrhiza” was coined. It came about as a group of biologist noticed plants who’s roots were colonized by fungi, but showed no sign of disease. This term is derived from Greek and literally means “fungus (myco) root (rhiza).”
As is implied in the name, the term mycorrhiza involves two primary components. Mycorrhiza does not just refer to a fungus or a plant. In fact, it is a term used to describe a mutualistic relationship shared between fungi and plants. Fossil evidence supports the theory that plants and fungi have participated in this relationship for over four hundred million years, dating back to the first plants to emerge from the ocean and radiate onto land. It is suggested that pioneering species of bacteria and fungi were the first organisms to successfully make a living on Earth’s baron terrestrial surface. In modern times, these organisms are known to break down inorganic molecules into their elemental components, which in that state, are more readily available for uptake and utilization by plants.
Mycorrhizal fungi specifically play a key role in the phosphorus cycle. These fungi are especially effective at solubilizing phosphorus, sequestering it and undergoing an intercellular exchange process with plants. In exchange for moisture and phosphorus, plants provide mycorrhizal fungi with sugars created in photosynthesis. These fungi utilize the sugars as an energy source. Mycorrhizal relationships also help to deter root pathogens by occupying the space in the soil around and within roots and have been shown to increase soil quality over time and facilitate healthy plant growth.