By Muhammad Bello Mustapha
Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi are symbiotic organisms with 70-90 % of all plants (Maillet et al., 2011). They are obligate biotrphs, meaning they form a symbiotic relationship with a host plant in order to complete their life circle. (Gerlach et al., 2015).
The term “Mycorrhizae” is derived from a Greek word “mycos”, meaning fungus, and “rhiza” meaning root. In Greek, mycorrhizae means fungus root. (Parniske et al., 2008). Mycorrhizal fungi are ancient living organisms. Evidence have proved their existence for over 460 million years. Over that period, they remain physically the same. (Parniske, 2008).
CROP PRODUCTIVITY AND ECOSYSTEM SUSTAINABILITY.
As obligate biotrphs, mycorrhizae play a vital role in nutrient uptake in plants via plant roots because they are able to explore small pores in the soil not accessible by the plant roots. (Jacobsen et al., 2005). Their hyphal networks are very efficient at exploring the soil and bringing in phosphate, zinc, nitrogen, sulphur and ammonium. (Gerlac et al., 2015). Improving intake rate of required elements in plants will increase crop productivity, fasten plant growth and effectively balance the quest for nutrients in plants, thereby strengthening the primary food source of many herbivores. By so doing, the succession process of both plants and animals can be sustained in a progressive ecosystem.
Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi were originally thought to contribute mainly to phosphate acquisition in plants, but they have also been found to transfer other nutrients, especially nitrogen. In some cases, a large amount of nitrogen is transferred to their host plants. (Storer et al., 2015). They are very important in carbon cycling, plants contributes 5-20% of their photo synthetically fixed carbon to the fungi. This makes them very significant to the global carbon cycle. (Storer and Hodge, 2015).
Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi are a very important part of our agricultural system because they are very instrumental to the success of our cropping systems. An ecological balance can also be attained if the agricultural system is sustained.
MUHAMMAD BELLO MUSTAPHA, WRITES FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF SCIENCE LABORATORY TECHNOLOGY, FEDERAL POLYTECHNIC BALI, TARABA STATE.