A sweet deal between tree roots and soil fungi
Mushroom picking is fun! Did you know that mushrooms can help trees to grow better and stay healthy? While fruiting bodies of mushrooms grow aboveground, fungi form an invisible network and beneficial connection (symbiosis) with tree roots in soil. The symbiosis is called mycorrhiza, which means “fungus-root”. Fungi provide vital nutrients from the soil to trees via the mycorrhiza and receive sugars for their own growth from trees made through photosynthesis. That’s a sweet deal! The nutrient exchanges requires root colonization by the fungus. The root tip, from where roots grow through cell division, is protected by a pointed cap. But mycorrhizal roots are thick, round and grow only very little.
I want to discover why root growth and shape change during symbiosis formation. The more we understand about this fascinating “sweet deal” that contributes to healthy forests, the better we can use and protect this symbiosis in forestry.
Umeå Plant Science Centre, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences