Mycorrhiza by BTU-Center: assessment of the specialist

More than a year has passed since the company BTU-Center presented the biopreparation MYCOFRIEND - the first product in its range of products with microscopic fungi Glomus VS, which form mycorrhiza with the vast majority (except cruciferous) of cultivated plants of Ukraine. This year, this segment of products was supplemented by MELANORIZ - the second mycorrhizal product with detoxifying properties as well.

How exactly do these preparations work? What result do they provide on the basic crops? What is their aftereffect on the soil? We asked these and other questions of the Head of the Laboratory of Applied Mycology of LLC Institute of Applied Biotechnology, PhD in Biological Sciences, Tamara Vinnichuk.

Tamara Vinnichuk, Head of the Laboratory of Applied Mycology of LLC Institute of Applied Biotechnology, PhD in Biological Sciences

        Tamara Serhiivna, please outline the process of mycorrhization. What happens after the contact of mycorrhizal fungi with a seed?

- Mycorrhizal fungi become active after germination of the seed under the action of root secretions of the plant. First, using a hyphal organ (appressorium), the fungus attached to the roots. Then an infectious hypha grows from the appressorium inside the root and develops into a mycelium. Next, the hyphae penetrate into the plant cell and form arbuscules (branches), in which an intensive exchange of nutrients occurs: the fungi give the plant moisture and nutrients in an easily accessible form, and in return receive carbohydrates. Due to the further development of mycorrhiza, the area of absorption of the root system of plants increases. At the same time the mycorrhizal fungi contribute to the development of natural antibiotics and inhibit the development of pathogens of fusarium, late blight, alternariosis, black and basal bacteriosis and other diseases, as well as pests, in particular nematodes.

        BTU-Center produces two mycorrhizal preparations: MYCOFRIEND with 2 mycorrhizal fungi (Glomus VS, Trichoderma Harzianum) and MELANORIZ with 4 fungi (Glomus, Aspergillus terreus, Trichoderma lignorum, Trichoderma viride). In what cases would you recommended applying one product and in what cases - the other?

- Both products are used for mycorrhization of cereals, legumes, technical crops, vegetables and fruits. The difference is that MELANORIZ, in addition to the main function, is able to neutralize in the soil the toxic effect of pathogens, pesticides, man-made factors, due to the presence in the preparation of fungi Aspergillus terreus and bacteria Arthrobacter sp., therefore, it can be recommended for applying on soils with technogenic contamination.

        Please tell us more about this process.

- Microscopic fungi Aspergillus terreus produce a wide range of exoenzymes (substances that break down the surrounding molecules, making them more nutritious for the fungus - ed. note), which actively destroy both natural and synthetic polymers. Arthrobacter decompose a number of toxic elements in the soil, using them for respiration and as a source of carbon and energy. In addition, they neutralize the toxic effect of pathogens in the soil, as well as increase the resistance of plants to drought, frost and similar adverse for plants factors.

        What is the role of bacteria in the composition of MYCOFRIEND (Streptomyces sp., Pseudomonas Fluorescens; Bacillius Megaterium var. phosphaticum, Bacillus Subtilis, Bacillus Muciloginosus, Enterobacter sp) and MELANORIZ (Bacillus subtilis, Bacillus macerans, Paenibacillus polymyxa, Arthrobacter)?

Streptomyces sp. and Pseudomonas Fluorescen microorganisms in the composition of MYCOFRIEND support formation of mycorrhiza and rhizosphere of plants, produce metabolites that inhibit the development of pathogens, increase the immunity of plants. Phosphate-mobilizing bacteria, Bacillius Megaterium var. phosphaticum, Bacillus Subtilis, Bacillus Muciloginosus, Enterobacter sp., are capable of assimilating both organic and mineral nitrogen, converting poorly soluble and organic phosphates and potassium from the soil into highly soluble mineral salts of phosphoric acid accessible for plants. Bacillus Subtilis are antagonists of pathogenic microorganisms. Bacteria in the product MELANORIZ have the similar functions. Microorganisms fix nitrogen from the air and because of the lack of oxygen turn it into ammonia, Paenibacillus polymyxa produce antibiotics (fungicidal and bactericidal); some species of Arthrobacter are able to reduce the level of toxic 6-valent chromium and 4-chlorophenol in the soil. Bacteria in both preparations secrete BAS (biologically active substances  ed. note): enzymes, vitamins, polysaccharides and others, which stimulate the growth and development of plants, as well as their resistance to drought, frost and other adverse conditions.

        According to the results of scientific studies, what effect do MYCOFRIEND and MELANORIZ provide on soy, sunflower, corn and winter wheat?

- The study of these preparations has been conducted for 3 years in cooperation with scientific institutions (Institute of Agriculture of Steppe, Khmelnytska and Volynska state agricultural experimental stations, Skvyrska state station for organic production, etc.) in the form of experiments on small fields and on industrial scale. According to the results of experiments, the effectiveness of preparations MYCOFRIEND and MELANORIZ was very similar: both provided an increase in the yield (on average, soybeans-0.3-0.6 t/ha; sunflower-0.34-0.9 t/ha; corn-0.4-1.2 t/ha; winter wheat-0.4-1.0 t/ha).

        Moisture is the main limiting factor for both chemical and biological preparations. How long / how actively do the active substances of the preparations MYCOFRIEND and MELANORIZ work during a severe drought? Are there any research findings to support this?

- Today the influence of soil moisture on mycorrhizal fungi is insufficiently studied. But it is proved that fungi are better adapted to lower values of free moisture in the environment compared with plants. Once the mycorrhizal fungi come into contact with the root system, they become less susceptible to environmental conditions. In addition, a prerequisite for their development is the presence of a living root system of the plant. Propagating on the roots of plants, the mycorrhizal fungi form many thin absorbing threads that have the ability to penetrate into the smallest pores of minerals, the smallest particles of soil, and deliver water to the root with nutrients dissolved in it. As a result, the plants having mycorrhiza become more resistant to drought, as evidenced by the results of numerous studies. 

        What is, in your opinion, the most effective way to introduce the mycorrhizal preparations?

- Treatment with the mycorrhizal preparations can be carried out on seed (planting) material and the root system of already vegetating plants. The mycorrhizal preparations are intended for treatment of seeds of cereals, legumes, technical crops, vegetables, row fertilization, fertigation, and also for treatment of seedlings.

        What to do when you need to treat seeds already treated with chemicals, in particular fungicides?

- The combined application of the mycorrhizal preparations with pesticides is undesirable, and sometimes contraindicated (for example, with some fungicides). If there is such a need, in each case it is mandatory to conduct a compatibility test. After that, the companys specialists will provide the necessary recommendations.

        Can the effectiveness of biological products be enhanced if they are added to the tank mixture with certain chemical (fertilizers) or biological products?

- In case of use of tank mixtures, it is mandatory to conduct a compatibility test, as well as to get recommendations of the companys specialists specifically for each tank mixture. Some chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and biological preparations can adversely affect the growth and development of microorganisms that are part of the mycorrhizal preparations. And some, on the contrary, can enhance or supplement their positive effect.

        What rules should be followed during treatment and sowing of seeds, as well as when introducing the mycorrhizal preparations directly into the soil?

- The main thing is to avoid direct sunlight, so all work should be carried out in a shade. Seeds are treated with a working solution of the biological products or soaked in it for 1-2 hours on the day of sowing. The treated seeds are sown immediately or dried to a loose state. Treatment of seedlings is carried out by short-term immersion of the root system in the working solution of the biological product, and the row fertilization is carried out during sowing.

        In terms of acidity and structure, in what type of soil do microorganisms function best?

- Best the fungi function in neutral or slightly acid soil pH; better in pH range 4.5 - 6. In case acidity is below pH 4 and above pH 8, the growth of fungi is slowed or stopped.

        How do the active ingredients of the mycorrhizal preparations affect the soil?

All the microorganisms in the composition of the mycorrhizal preparations affect the soil. In addition to the above mentioned effects of bacteria and microscopic fungi, it can be noted that the mycorrhizal fungi improve the aggregate state of soils. Actively developing, the mycelium forms a grid that binds the soil particles. In addition, they are able to accumulate in the soil glycoprotein - glomatin, which causes the adhesion of soil aggregates and increases their hydrophobicity. Also, mucus is formed on the hyphae of fungi, to which clay particles of the soil adhere. This contributes to the appearance of water-resistant aggregates that prevents soil erosion. 

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