This was another article from my localfungi group. They checked out places with really poor growing conditions to figure out how plants could survive there, and they are hypothesizing that a type of super fungi can help plants get the nutrients they need.
Fungi aids plants in scavenging nutrients
from ancient soils
A super-fungi subset, discovered by scientists in two
million year old soils along Western Australia’s coastal
plains, may be the key to plant survival in nutrient
Scientists now know the survival of plants in even the
most impoverished soils is often based on the co-
existence between mycorrhizal fungi and the roots of a
A study at a biodiversity hot spot at Jurien Bay, which
boasts some of the oldest sandy soils on the planet, is
showing that the fungi exchange the nutrients they get
from the soil for carbon that they get from the plant.
The often-microscopic organisms do this by moving
through the soils, attaching themselves to plant roots
and assisting the plants in scavenging for soil nutrients.
The most interesting finding of the study was that this
biodiversity hotspot may host some super-fungi,
University of Western Australia root ecologist Francois
“These fungi assist plants in tough environments, and
while we have known this for some time, what was
interesting in this study was that as nutrients became
extremely scarce in the older soils, we saw the first
indication that the fungi were also struggling, and they
started to show signs of stress,” he says.
“Like the plants trying to survive, these important fungi
also had to change their behavior to survive, and a
small portion of the fungi seemed to be able to cope
with the impoverished conditions showing little signs of
“This research is all pointing towards the concept that
that there might be a few super species of mycorrhizal
fungi out there.”
Further studies examining phosphorus limitations in
strongly weathered soils are also supporting the
concept that there may be a subset of super mycorrhizal
fungi with the ability to thrive where other fungi struggle.
However, further research is needed to isolate and
identify these super fungi in the laboratory or
glasshouses, according to Dr. Teste.
“What we need to do is to see if we can use them for
management or other purposes such as restoration.”
Dr. Teste says plants in nutrient rich or fertilized soils do
not always need these fungi.
“Plants are doing many different things to cope and
survive. Western Australia soils are incredibly
interesting and valuable, and can teach us what is
happening as soils age and get incredibly
impoverished,” he says.
“Plants have figured out how to survive in this type of
environment but we are just discovering these tricky
Source: Adapted from an article at:
Mycorrhizal fungi, which often manifest
above the soil as mushrooms, can be
critical to the survival of plants in