Mycorrhizae  - Mycorrhiza = singular and Mycorrhizae = plural.  Mycor = fungus.  Rhiza = Root.  Mycorrhizae are organs made up of tree and fungus tissues.  A composite structure.  Non-woody roots that are infected by beneficial fungi are called mycorrhizae.  Mycorrhizae are organs that facilitate the absorption of phosphates and other soil elements such as manganese, copper, and zinc dissolved in water.  This makes them unique.  They function in soil and nurse logs.  Mycorrhizae (sometimes written as mycorrhiza, singular, and mycorrhizas or mycorrhizae, plural) are active for months to a year.  They are organs on most trees.  Hyphae from mycorrhizae on one tree can connect with hyphae from mycorrhizae from another tree of a different species. The grand forest connection.  Mycorrhizae form when some fungi infect young, emerging non-woody roots.   You cannot inoculate soils with mycorrhizae.  Mycorrhizae are organs made up of tree and fungus tissues. You can inoculate soils with the fungi that infect roots to form mycorrhizae.  Nature gives us so much free, including mycorrhizae.  As root hairs and mycorrhizae die, they add organic material to the soil.  Root hairs and mycorrhizae are alive and well in midwinter in nonfrozen soils during warm spells and non-frozen soil below frozen soils.   Again, the uniqueness of the mycorrhizae lies in their ability to readily absorb elements such as phosphates, zinc, manganese and copper.  How much is absorbed through the tree tissue part of the mycorrhiza and through the hyphae of the fungus portion of the mycorrhiza is not well understood.  The mycorrhiza is the organ, the structure.  However, the fungi associated with the structure often form hyphae - vegetative tubes of a fungus -far beyond the structure.  And, again, how much of the absorption is directly into the structure and how much enters through the hyphae growing away from the structure is not well understood.
    The fungi play a major role in recycling essential elements from dead organic matter.  The fungi often do this in association with many other organisms in the soil: bacteria, insects, worms, amoebae, nematodes, and small animals. To see brilliantly colored minute mushroom fruit bodies of a fungus recycling elements in a dead log (See TREE ANATOMY, SHIGO, 1994, pg 86).  Many of the fungi associated with mycorrhizae have mushroom fruit bodies.  Others have a variety of fruit bodies above ground and below ground.  The major point is that the members of the natural system are all connected.  When the connections begin to be broken, the system will suffer. You can kill soil. You can kill a forest.  You can kill many living things that depend on a healthy forest.  How?  By breaking connections.   Some mycorrhizae "regrow" on themselves and may grow for more than a year.   Many mycorrhizae grow in micro cavities in the soil.  Compaction destroys the micro cavities.  Some mycorrhizae grow between old, dead leaves, and in brown-rotted (decomposing) wood suggesting that the fungi may be able to digest lignin.  Note: Mycorrhizae are organs that facilitate absorption of water and elements.  Mycorrhizae do not fix nitrogen.  Root hairs often grow on mycorrhizae.
Again mycorrhizae are organs.  Mycorrhizae are organs.  They are organs of fungus and tree tissues that facilitate the absorption of water and elements.  They do this in several different ways.  They expand the absorbing surface as the hyphae reach out and as they grow out into the soil.  They also have chitin in their boundaries which is very adapt to absorbing large molecules such as the phosphate molecule which is 96.  You cannot inoculate with an organ.  You do not go to the doctor and hear the doctor say “nurse get the heart inoculum”.  Next time you come across someone selling all of these things, ask them “what is a mycorrhiza”?  Can you inoculate with a mycorrhiza?  If they do not know what it is or they answer yes to the second one, I would smile, shake their hand and say see you.  Think about this.  Think, please.   
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See "Trees and Associates in Winter"

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