With more than 7.6 billion mouths to feed on this hungry planet, wouldn’t you want to get a higher yield when growing rice? In the past, we relied on chemical fertilizers and pesticides to increase production, but this has caused huge damage to the ecological environment. Now, we have found a better assistant to increase yields, that is, fungi, this little thing can almost completely replace chemical fertilizers and pesticides.
fungi that can be used as fertilizer
Fungi can replace chemical fertilizers, mainly because fungi can directly provide phosphate to rice and promote the growth of plant roots. The fungus also altered the rice’s gene expression to stimulate the growth of additional roots, allowing the rice to absorb more abundant nutrients.
The fungus grows thin tendrils—hyphae, which extend to the soil around the plant to absorb various compounds. The plant directly obtains 70% to 100% of phosphate through the mycelium, and these phosphates can enter the plant cells. core.
Not only is phosphate fertilizer a pollutant that causes excessive algae growth that impedes water supplies, but phosphate mines are now facing depletion and are expected to be exhausted within the next 30-50 years. Therefore, it will be a valuable research direction to propagate crops through mycorrhizal fungi to reduce the use of phosphate fertilizers.
The study also found that those mycorrhizal fungi not only made the plants obtain phosphate directly, but also softened the cell walls of their crown roots, triggering the growth of more lateral roots, which can absorb more nutrients, so that the crops can obtain higher yields.
fungi that keep pests out
Once rice is sown, it can be attacked by pests. There is a small insect called the rice water weevil. The larvae feed on the rice roots, leaving the rice without enough roots and causing a lot of yield loss. Another insect called fall armyworm, which likes to eat the leaves of above-ground plants, also causes huge losses to crops.
In the past, we relied on pesticides to kill insects to reduce losses, but pesticides can also poison humans and pollute the surrounding environment. Now, we have found that while mycorrhizal fungi provide nutrients to plants, they can also reduce the damage of herbivorous insects to rice.
Mycorrhizal fungi grow in the roots of rice, and their dense mycelium occupies the root space, which directly interferes with pathogen infection and herbivorous insect invasion. The symbiosis of mycorrhizal fungi with rice increases the resistance of rice to herbivorous insects or pathogens. Even after the rice is eaten by pests, the mycorrhizal bacteria can help the plant grow more shoots, allowing the rice to recover faster.
At present, we also use some fungal insecticides, but the fungal insecticides currently produced are mainly fungi that use insects as hosts, mainly targeting underground pests, and the effective period is relatively long, while the mycorrhizal fungal symbiosis system is effective against underground insects and leaf-eating insects. All have good effects. Relying on the symbiosis of mycorrhizal fungi with rice, and avoiding the use of harmful pesticides, will benefit us immensely.
At present, the two-in-one fungal product with the efficacy of fertilizer and pesticide is about to come out, which will bring a new look to agricultural production.