Mycorrizae can save plants, help the planet

By Samuel Robbins - Staff Reporter

Fungi protects plants and may help alleviate the adversity of climate change, a Highline professor said last week.

Urban Agriculture Program Manager Bobby Butler spoke at last week's Science Seminar.

Science Seminar is held every Friday and attendance is open to any staff or student. Presentations are led by faculty on research topics and subjects of general scientific interest.

Fungi are spore-producing organisms feeding on organic matter, including molds, yeast, mushrooms, and toadstools.

"Mycorrhizae protects plants from climate change damage," Butler said. 

Mycorrhizae are symbiotic relationships that form between fungi and plants. 

The fungi colonize the root system of a host plant, providing increased water and nutrient absorption capabilities while the plant provides the fungus with carbohydrates.

"Mycorrhizae played a large role in the evolution of plants, and now climate change is changing how plants grow," Butler said.

Butler listed the ways that mycorrhizae protect plants from the dangers of climate change:

Heat protection: When a mycorrhizae relationship was formed with flowers they survived higher temperatures, he said.

Drought protection: Research concluded that corn survived water loss in higher temperatures with mycorrhizae, he said.

"Some other benefits of mycorrhizae are: soil salinity tolerance, soil acidity tolerance and disease resistance," Butler said.

Mycorrhizae is not likely to make a large difference in climate change, but it could help Butler said. 

Next Science Seminar, will be Friday, March 3, in Building 3, room 102 with Chun Yu dicussing computer information systems. 

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