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Vesicular Arbuscular Mycorrhiza (VAM)

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Symbiotic fungi are quite helpful for the plants to fixate on certain nutrients from the surrounding. One such strain is Vesicular Arbuscular Mycorrhiza. It is commonly recognized as VAM. This type of fungus forms a mutually beneficial relationship with bigger plants that can perform photosynthesis. The fungus offers something that this plant cannot acquire whereas the plant gives it nutrition. In this article, we will find out the special features of this fungus and its utilization in agriculture.

What is VAM?

VAM fungi are mycorrhizal species of fungus that live in the roots of different higher-order plants. They develop a symbiotic relationship with the plants in the roots of these plants. This type of fungus can penetrate and enter the cortical cells of vascular tissues of plants and form an arbuscule. They are different from the ericoid mycorrhiza in this aspect.

The prime features that help to determine this fungus are its vesicular or arbuscule formation. The unique structural features of this fungus add it to the Phylum Glomeromycota. The prime function of this fungus is to capture important nutrients from the soil such as sulfur, nitrogen, phosphorus, and other micronutrients for the host plants. The host plants, on the other hand, provide nutrition by performing photosynthesis.

As per the paleobotanists, the evolution of vascular plants and colonization of land plants in the prehistoric era is directly linked to the development of this symbiotic phenomenon of VAM. The higher-order plants started to develop vascular tissues that can absorb and carry water from the soil. The symbiotic relationship resulted in the propagation of the plants in the land from the water sources as they got the special nutrients fixated by these fungi.

Hence, the symbiosis process performed by this fungus is highly evolved and mutual. In fact, more than 80% of the symbiotic relationships between vascular plants and fungus can be noticed in this species.

Over the years, advanced research has been conducted on the ecological effects of mycorrhizal symbiosis that led to the foundation of various benefits. This symbiotic relationship plays multiple roles for the ecosystem. For instance, VAM produces a glue-like protein named Glomalin that helps in maintaining the soil structure. The common mycorrhizal fungi examples that perform symbiosis are larch trees, conifers, oak, beech, etc.

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Uses of Arbuscular Mycorrhiza

As mentioned earlier, this fungus has excellent symbiotic features that can be used in the restoration of deserted lands. Let us take a quick look at these excellent uses of this fungus in the agricultural field.

  • Phytoremediation

The prime benefit of the symbiotic process of this fungus and the phenomenon of fixating essential elements to the land can be depicted as VAM biofertilizer. This biofertilizer can be used for enhancing the fertility of the abandoned lands and can make them cultivable again.

The soil structure and nutrition availability drastically improve when this fungus is used as a new approach. The process involves the inoculation of this fungus in the soil while reintroducing vegetation. This is called an ecological restoration project. This process increases soil quality and improves the health of the plants.

By adding this fungus, the nitrogen content and organic matter percentage in the soil increases. In fact, it also results in soil aggregation and preservation of the available nutrients for plant growth.

  • Tillage

Another good use of vesicular fungus is to reduce the requirement of tilling the lands. Due to excess tillage, the macromolecular structure of the soil is disrupted resulting in loss of phosphorus level to a considerable extent. Hence, adding this fungus for phytoremediation, the tillage requirements reduce and the integrity of the soil is retained for a longer period.

  • Phosphorus Fertilizer

As mentioned earlier, this type of symbiotic alliance can be found in more than 80% of the plants involved in such natural relationships. The ability to dissolve the phosphates available in the soil and fixate them to provide them to the plants makes this fungus a natural phosphorus fertilizer. This ability enhances the harvest in all possible ways. It also enhances the percentage of other trace elements necessary for the growth of host plants.

It is obvious that a higher-order plant’s biological process and lifecycle depends on this element. Hence, the easy availability of phosphorus will result in proper growth and accomplishment of all the biological functions of a plant. The plant, on the other hand, can share the produce of carbohydrates with the fungi present in the roots. This is a prominent use of the mycorrhizal biofertilizer in several agricultural processes.

  • Warding off Root Diseases

As this fungus colonizes in the roots of the plants, it also forms a shield against various other infectious diseases affecting the plant’s growth.

This is a small summary of this fungus and its exceptional use in the agricultural field. In terms of biological characteristics, it is different from the other mycorrhizal fungi species. Find out the uses of the natural VAM fertilizer and learn how it enhances the features of cultivable soil. Learn how this fungus has contributed to the agricultural field.

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FAQs on Vesicular Arbuscular Mycorrhiza (VAM)

1. What is a fungus?

A fungus is a non-flowering plant, a eukaryotic organism, which does not have proper organs such as roots, stem, and leaves. It is a kingdom of unicellular and multicellular eukaryotic plants that are considered heterotrophs as they cannot prepare their own food. They usually depend on decaying matter or perform symbiosis with higher-order plants. The best examples are mycorrhiza, yeast, moulds, etc. Some of them can cause diseases in human beings whereas some species are edible.

2. Why is VAM considered a biofertilizer?

VAM is considered a bio-fertilizer as it has the capability of fixating phosphates present in the soil. Its natural capability is also to increase the percentage content of trace elements. This is why it is widely used for the restoration of the fertility of barren or abandoned lands. This fungus also has symbiotic functions that help plants to get more nutrition from the soil and thrive.

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