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Mycorrhizae can be described as collective, however symbotic associations between fungal hyphae and the roots of garden or vascular plants. Depending on the intimacy of this association, mycorrhizal fungi are two categories: endomycorrhizae and ectomycorrizae. One hand, endomycorrhizae are mycorrhizal fungus whose root-like hyphae penetrate into the root tissue of the vascular plants. Endomycorrhizae are wide unfold especially in arbuscular species whose interfaces between hyphal and root look like balloons or branches. On the different side, ectomycorrhizae’s root-like hyphae often surround the roots of these plants, however occasionally they do penetrate into root tissues. Although they are not vast spread, they form significant symbiotic relationship with numerous woody plant species, creating an elaborate hyphal network across topsoil and mulch layers.

Mycorrhizae and plants benefit each other in different ways – as they form symbiotic association, which is mutualistic in nature. Bearing in mind that fungi are non-photosynthetic and do not generate own food, they get B vitamins and carbohydrates through hyphae. Also helps the plant uptake phosphate in infertile soils, enhances plant survival, root and shoot growth, fruit yield, nitrogen fixation, and plant hormonal balances. The plants also benefits by enhanced uptake of mineral nutrients and water as their root surfaces are significantly colonized by these fungi. Occasionally, mycorrhizal parasitism does occur, where there are good conditions for crop production – fungi take more than they can give. Howevrer, mycorrhizae can be damaged by the presence of heavy metals, fungicides, lime, and salts, as well as excessive fertilizer. Rototilling of land and the removal of topsoil are practices that damage mycorrhizae. I would not recommend the purchase of mycorrhizae as the studies have indicated that they have no significant value on the growth and performance of the plant. Instead, addition of organic matter encourages the growth of native mycorrhizae.

Article on Plant Pharmacies

Secondary metabolites can be described as a group of organic compounds generated by plants, which are not necessary for the normal growth and development or reproduction, but plays a vital role in defending the plants against herbivory and other dangerous species, as well as aiding in species interaction and competition. Plants do not require secondary metabolites for survival. Other species, such as elephant, chimpanzees and bees, use plant secondary metabolites for medicinal purposes. Others such, as monarch butterfly, use these compounds for defense against predictors. Human beings have used secondary metabolites can be used as medicines, recreational drugs or flavoring.

Cardennolides, such as nicotine, tobacco alkaloid, and catalpol, have significant benefits on bees as they protect them from parasites. These compounds are found on specific plant species, such as turtlehead and basswood trees. However, these compounds have no cost on insects in terms of longevity, unlike other compounds. Insects forage on the nectar of these trees only when they are infected by parasites and not as a preventive measure.

On the other hand, anabasine has both benefits and costs to the insects. First, it helps the bee to reduce parasite load significantly than other compounds. Although anabasine was effective in providing anti-parasite benefits, it had a heavy cost of the reproductive capability of the insects. Essentially, anabasine increased the number of days in which the bees are supposed to be mature enough to lay eggs. Ultimately, there is no effect on reproductive output, but the delay can have an effect on the distribution of bee population.

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