alexa Fungi enhances crop roots and could be a future bio-fertilizer

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Fungi enhances crop roots and could be a future bio-fertilizer

In addition to causing extra root growth, the mycorrhizal fungus also enmeshes itself within crop roots at a cellular level blooming within individual plant cells. The fungus grows thin tendrils called hyphae that extend into surrounding soil and pump nutrients, phosphate in particular, straight into the heart of plant cells. Plants 'colonised' by the fungi get between 70 to 100% of their phosphate directly from these fungus tendrils, an enormous mineral boost which may eventually mitigate the need for farmers to saturate crop fields with phosphate fertilizer to ensure maximum yield. The hope is that mycorrhizal fungi could one day act as a 'bio-fertilizer' that ultimately replaces the need to mine phosphate from the ground for industrial fertilizer. Finding a replacement for mined phosphate is a critical problem as not only is the resultant fertilizer a pollutant causing algal growth which chokes water supplies but the big phosphate mines are now depleted to the point where they are expected to run out in the next 30 to 50 years. Many experts are predicting a 'phosphate crisis'.

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