Fungi could be a strong ally to improve crops and to make plants absorb key nutrients according to a new study conducted by researchers from the University of Leeds who have specifically analyzed the relationship between cereal plants and soil fungi.
According to the researchers, a smaller amount of fertilizers could be used by using soil fungi also in view of the climate changes that are taking place globally considering that the fertilizers themselves are one of the main causes of global carbon emissions.
Researchers studied the relationship between fungi and plants in the laboratory and noted that some fungi known as arbuscular mycorrhizae come into strong connection with the roots of cereal plants to provide the latter with significant quantities of nitrogen and phosphorus. In return, plants supply their carbohydrates in a relationship known as symbiosis.
The study, published in Global Change Biology , speaks of mushrooms as a “valuable new tool to help ensure future food security in the face of climate and ecological crises”, as explained by Katie Field, researcher at the English University and Global Food and Environment Institute.
During the observations they made, the researchers noted that plants can supply up to 20% of the carbon they absorb from the air to the fungi in exchange for up to 80% of the phosphorus supply they need. . These mushrooms actually contribute to increasing plant growth.
According to the researchers, it is possible to develop new varieties of plants that are less dependent on fertilizers since over the past 10,000 years these plants, in particular those of cereals, have been mostly cultivated through intensive crops that have prevented the same varieties from continuing to have such close connections with soil fungi.
“We are beginning to realize that some of the crops we have tamed lack these important connections with the fungi in the soil. Our results suggest that there is real potential to breed new crop varieties that regain this lost relationship with beneficial mushrooms and improve the sustainability of future food production systems, “explains Tom Thirkell, another author of the study.