In the photograph above, fungus grows around the roots and parts of a plant. This relationship between fungi and the roots of vascular plants is a mycorrhiza, a symbiotic and mutually beneficial association between fungi and roots of vascular plants. Mycorrhizal associations become active once a fungus takes over a host plant’s roots. The fungus can colonize the roots of the plant by either intracellular or extracellular means. Mycorrhiza helps the fungus and the plant coexist beneficially and exchange various nutrients, minerals, sugars, and waters. The fungus absorbs substances from the plant, while the plant absorbs substances from the fungus. In turn, the two organisms work together to gather nutrients. This relationship also increases the surface area of the plant and fungi. Today, many farmers use synthetic fungi and fertilizers to help nourish plants.

-Jude Alawa

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