Beneficial microorganisms are very important components of living soils and dramatically improve productivity of the soil-plant ecosystem: they help cycle nutrients and convey them to the plants, protect against predators and diseases, stimulate germination, regulate humidity, and break down organic inputs. Conversely, a healthy soil microbiome can reduce the need for fertilizers and watering. For instance
- rhizobium bacteria capture nitrogen to transfer it to the plant
- mycorrhizae fungi extend the reach of rootlets to give fuller access to nutrients, minerals and water
- protists fight potential pathogens
In most cases, the relationship between the plant and microorganisms is a mutualistic one, where the plant gets advantages in exchange of giving food (carbohydrates) and protection to the microorganisms.
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