What effects do soil fungi have on your crop?

With an astonishing diversity, soil fungi are widely distributed in all types of soils. In fact, in some cases, they represent up to 50% of the total microbial population.

These microorganisms play a fundamental role in terrestrial ecosystems, as they participate in key biogeochemical processes and establish symbiotic associations with plants.

The association between plant roots and fungi dates back millions of years, when plants evolved from swampy environments. To achieve soil colonization, it was necessary to establish a plant-microorganism symbiosis, with fungi being the protagonists of this union. Fungi are attached to plants by their root system, their hyphae acting as natural extensions of plant roots. In return, the plants provide food to the fungi in the form of sugars, organic acids, amino acids and other nutrients.

Soil fungi, key in organic farming

In agriculture, soil fungi offer really significant benefits. Among them, trichodermas and mycorrhizal fungi stand out.

Trichoderma spp. and their dialogue with plants

trichoderma spp.
trichoderma spp.

Widely used worldwide, they are adapted to a wide variety of environmental conditions and derive their energy from decomposing organic matter.

They are fast growing and can proliferate in a wide range of soils. They colonize plant roots, not penetrating inside them, therefore, they do not depend on plant roots, although they do depend on other fungi present in the rhizosphere. They are opportunistic, generating relationships with plant roots to obtain their own benefit in exchange for returning a positive effect to the plant.

Trichodermas spp. provide a wide variety of benefits to plants, such as priming or indirect biological control, offering a systemic defense against diseases, pests and abiotic stresses. They act as biostimulants, promoting root growth and development, and also as direct biological control agents against various pathogenic fungi, where they exert mycoparasitism, antibiosis and competition for nutrients and physical space, thus protecting the plant from attack by pathogenic fungi.

Mycorrhizal fungi and the oldest symbiotic relationship on earth

These mycorrhizal fungi form mutually beneficial associations with plant roots, increasing the plant’s uptake of water and nutrients, while the fungus receives carbon compounds from the plant’s photosynthesis. The symbiosis between fungi and plants, established approximately 400 million years ago according to scientific studies, leads to the creation of a “supraorganism” where both the fungus and the plant give up part of their individual identity to function together. Arbuscular mycorrhizae are the most abundant, forming approximately 95% of plant species. This symbiotic association confers multiple benefits to the plant, such as increased exploration and uptake surface in the soil, greater efficiency in the absorption of less assimilable nutrients, increased crop yield and increased resistance to pathogens.


How to implement strategies based on these fungi for efficient and sustainable agriculture?

In the context of today’s agriculture that requires strategies to reduce the need for water, fertilizers and pesticides, soil fungi offer innovative solutions to improve the productivity and resilience of agricultural systems. Its ability to promote soil health, reduce dependence on agrochemicals and improve nutrient uptake efficiency represents a key opportunity to move towards more sustainable and environmentally friendly agricultural practices.

In this sense, it is crucial to consider the importance of soil fungi in terrestrial ecosystems and their relevance for improving modern agriculture. Integrating strategies that promote their presence and activity in the soil offers significant opportunities to develop a more sustainable, efficient and environmentally friendly agricultural future.