Re: [gardeners] Re: Mycorrhiza questions...

Thomas Giannou (
Mon, 19 Oct 1998 14:29:38 -0700


This isn't a strict definition, but Mycorrhiza means "fungus of roots."  The
word Mycorrhiza is not in itself a fungi but describes a relationship
between fungi and plant root systems.  That relationship is mutually
benefitial to both plant and the fungi.  It is a symbiotic relationship in
which the fungi (speaking of VAM) can not exist separate from it's host
plant.  In fact, some would argue that the host plant "on its own" can not
exist separate from the fungi.  One noted European internet site (BEG) on
Mycorrhiza states, "The study of roots without mycorrhiza is a study of
artifacts."  VAM fungi go into the cells of a plants roots without
destroying the cells.  It is within the cell that the transfer of nutrients
takes place.  The plant gives the fungi carbohydrates to keep it alive and
the fungi transports into the plant the nutrients gathered from soil
components to help keep the plant alive.

If you can find it,  there is a book titled, "Mycorrhiza Symbiosis" which
gets into a lot of technical details about this subject.  All of the
mycologists point to that book as a primary resource and the most current
resource short of individual current published papers.  I believe the
current edition is a 2nd edition as of 1997.  I would give you the authors,
but someone has borrowed my copy.  It costs about $ 80.

Best Regards,
Thomas Giannou
-----Original Message-----
From: Margaret Lauterbach <>
To: <>
Date: Monday, October 19, 1998 1:38 PM
Subject: Re: [gardeners] Re: Mycorrhiza questions...

>>Mine said that mycorrhiza  are specific to species of plants.
>>For example, Don in CA is selling the fungi for use with tomatoes --
>>he has a strain that will grow and work with tomatoes.  It may grow
>>and work with a few other plants, too.  But there is no general
>>purpose mycorrhiza that is the answer to everyone's problems or that
>>will work with every plant.  The last time I read Don's postings they
>>were testing their strain on many plants but it was sort of a shotgun
>>type approach -- there's no way to predict which plants will form a
>>symbiotic relationship with a particular strain.
>I thought the substance was specific to specific plants, having looked up
>the web page cited by Doreen Leonard last summer.  I have a pretty good
>reference library, but I'm unable to find a definition for microrrhiza.
>For some reason I have a cognitive association between it and mycelium.  Do
>you have a definition for micorrhiza? (I see I've been spelling it with
>three r's and you're not. Maybe that's the trouble)
>>I have real questions about the usefulness of using any form of these
>>fungi in an organic garden such as yours -- one in which tomatoes are
>>planted in the same location year after year.   My own anecdotal
>>experience is that tomatoes replanted year after year in the same
>>soil grow exceptionally well.  My guess is that part of that result
>>comes from soil microbes that become established and flourish year
>>after year -- not necessarily just a single type of fungus but a
>>balance of many types of organisms.
>Excellent point.  Thanks, Margaret, who still would like a definition if
>you can find one.