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Complex Soil Biology Keeps Us Growing “Smart”

An inquiry to BioOrganics recently brought up several aspects of fungi vs bacteria.
Differing plants have a greater dependence on fungi and bacteria than others. This fact seems to be
due to differing evolutionary patterns. I’m sure it is an oversimplification, but it seems that plants that
originated in poorer soils (like tropical rain forests or deserts) have developed a much greater need
for association with mycorrhizal fungi than plants from richer glacial and alluvial deposits.
I don’t believe biological imbalances can be created in soil over the long run, although there are
constant ups and downs between competing organisms. I’d liken it to a pattern of predators and
prey animals - at times the populations of zebras increase and so do lions, but then over grazing
and/or drought will knock down both groups.
I don’t think bio populations are ever completely stable, but rather they vary within defined limits. You
can inject massive numbers of bacteria and biostimulants which will certainly have an effect on the
other soil biota and plants, but the effects will not be permanent - the soil environment will not support
abnormally high populations of any organisms for very long.
I think of bacteria more as food processors, performing digestive or solubilizing functions, and mycorrhizal
fungi as plant uptake regulators - moving digested nutrients into their host plants as required.
I see beneficial bacteria and fungi more as collaborators, not as competitors.
Some plants are better able to uptake nutrients without the aid of the fungi, while others have
evolved a strong dependence on mycorrhizae. Both bacteria and fungi are attracted to and use root
exudates from plants, which creates sort of a closed-loop system of mutual nourishment.
Interesting system! And far, far, more complex and intelligently structured than most realize.
Don Chapman
BioOrganics, Inc.
May, 2001

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