Fungi in the Soil

There is a lot more to soil than just what meets the eye; nestled within it is a lot of fungi! Many fungi in the soil are microscopic cells. They often grow as long strands. These thread-like structures are called hyphae. Unlike plants, fungi do not have chlorophyll. They cannot use the energy from the sun to make their own food. They must, instead, get their energy in other ways.

There are three main types of soil fungi. Some fungi are decomposers. They get the energy that they need by decomposing organic matter in the soil. This feeds the fungi and assists the soil. A second group of fungi is known as mutualists. This type of fungi has a special mutual relationship with plants. These fungi and plants help each other. Mutualistic fungi colonize plant roots. They help the plant absorb needed nutrients from the soil. Their large mass also protects the plant's roots from pathogens and pests. In exchange, .....

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