Many of you know I am a staunch fan of mycorrhizae! Studies have shown that mycorrhizal root systems increase the absorptive area of roots 10 to 1000 times thereby greatly improving the ability of the plants to utilize the soil resources. We talk to our plants, but now we know that Plants Talk to Each Other Through Mycorrhizae, warning each other when they have been attacked by insects like aphids!
The new study, carried out by researchers from the University of Aberdeen, the James Hutton Institute and Rothamsted Research, demonstrates plants’ ability to send warnings about incoming aphids to other plants connected to their network. Plants send out a chemical signal that repels aphids and attracts predatory wasps, who then attack the aphids. However, plants that were not found to be connected to the fungal network did not send out warnings to other plants after being attacked. Previous findings that have shown plants communicate with similar chemical warnings through the air. Plants in the research network were covered with bags to ensure they were not sending signals through the air.
John Pickett of Rothamsted Research told the BBC the discovery could lead to growers using fungi as an advance warning system for their crops. The theory, he said, is to use a sacrificial plant at a distance from crops and if it fell under attack, it would warn the others, giving them time to build a defense. In scientific language, the amazing response is like this: The inoculation of pathogens ‘led to increases in disease resistance and activities of the putative defensive enzymes, peroxidase, polyphenol oxidase, chitinase, b-1, 3-glucanase, phenylalanine ammonia-lyase and lipoxygenase in healthy neighboring ‘receiver’ plants. The uninfected ‘receiver’ plants also activated six defense-related genes!’ This explains why one plant can be unhealthy and a plant right next to it thrives!
What this means for us veggie gardeners, is we now have another significant reason to sprinkle that mycorrhizae right ON our plants’ roots when we install our transplants! You can get it in bulk at Island Seed & Feed in Goleta, and it’s worth it! It saves money too! You need less Nitrogen and Phosphorus. Mycorrhiza & Farmers video
My friend says ‘WOW!!! I guess I shouldn’t keep my plants in “solitary confinement” in pots….’ I replied, use some bigger pots and let a few plants live together; sprinkle on the mycorrhizal fungi when you move them in together!