These days, everyone’s talking about the ‘wood wide web’, and how mycorrhizal fungi benefit plants.

But have you found a useful resource summing up the benefits?

I haven’t.

I found bits and pieces of information in scientific papers, books and articles, while doing research for the Ecological Farming Handbook. For example, how they dramatically increase water and nutrient availability for their host plants, and release sugars from the tips of their hyphae to feed phosphate – solubilizing bacteria.

But, the information was so discombobulated.

It was frustrating.

So I put together a ‘mind map’ to help me organise the information, and wanted to share it with you. I have included all the benefits I have so far – but there are certainly others. (If you know of any – let me know in the comments below, and I’ll update the diagram. If possible include the source of your information.)

When I was studying for my degree in ecology, way back in… Maybe I won’t say exactly! Scientists were just starting to talk about mycorrhizal fungi. I remember learning how they had discovered that a couple of conifer species, grown commercially, had symbiotic relationships with these fungi.

NOW we know that over 90% of plants species, including most crop plants, can form an association with these specialised soil fungi.

That they are indispensable.


(Right click on image to view enlarged version)

Here’s a couple of questions for you

  1. How did plants get nutrients and water for the first 75 million years after colonising dry land?
  2. What’s the main function of roots?

Answer – (1) Mycorrhizal Fungi. Answer – (2) Anchoring your plants in the soil.

In healthy soil, mycorrhizal fungi become the main tool to absorb water and nutrients for most plants. Roots mainly function as backups in case fungi are lost.

That’s a different perspective!