Symbiosis of mushrooms and trees

Coexistence of two completely different organisms is the basis of all life. Most living organisms cannot live without mutualism. Symbiosis of the fungus and tree is also common. As a result, both partners benefit.

Symbiosis of mushrooms and trees


The relationship occurs between organisms of different species. Communication is required when the symbionts are completely dependent on each other, for example lichens; it happens optionally when plants and their "companions" symbionts can live separately. An organism is called a symbiont, which consists in symbiosis. There are several types of symbiosis:

  1. Parasitism: relations in which one member of the union harms the second. It manifests itself in endosymbiosis, that is, one individual lives in cells, tissues of another or exosymbiosis (one species lives on the surface of the body of another).
  2. Mutualism: a type of relationship in which interspecific altruism or a complete relationship is observed.
  3. Commensalism: a variant of communication in which one symbiont benefits and the other does not feel much damage or help. Examples of such cohabitation are a spider building a web on plants, a mustard fish lays eggs in the shell of bivalve mollusks.
  4. Amensalism: a form of existence where a certain species oppresses or destroys another. For example, a walnut completely destroys everything that lives within its root and feeds on decomposed substances.
  5. Synnecrosis: a rare type in which a mutually beneficial relationship leads to the death of both involved.

It was confirmed that the desire for unification is more developed in fungi that have clearly formed subsoil fruit bodies. The symbiosis of plants and fungi is a vivid example of reliable contact between two biological organisms. These unique eukaryotic creatures are able to collaborate with many others. For example, fungi form a bond with the roots of many organisms.

Communication with trees

Mycorrhiza, or fungus root, is the result of a symbiosis of mushrooms with trees. Engaging in such contact is beneficial to both. For example, hybrids of a boletus (or porcini mushroom) penetrate the small roots of woody organisms and are located between cells. So, thanks to the interaction with mycelium, mycorrhiza forms. It is scientifically confirmed that certain types of trees create it in conjunction with dozens of different mushrooms.

Irina Selyutina (Biologist):

In mycology, these types of mycorrhiza are distinguished, differing in the features of their structure:

  1. Ectotrophic: fungal hyphae simply braid the surface of a young plant root, forming mycorrhizal tubes or a kind of cover. At the same time, hyphae, penetrating into the root rhizoderm, propagate only along the intercellular spaces, without affecting the cell cavity. In the case of the formation of this type of mycorrhiza, the root hairs atrophy in the plant - fungal hyphae perform their function. The root cap also undergoes reduction - it is likewise replaced by hyphae that have formed their own “cap”. As a result, the root is divided into zones with the formation of the Gartig network.
  2. Endotrophic: fungal hyphae pass into the root cortex cells through pores in their membranes and form clusters resembling tangles there. Moreover, the root of mycorrhiza is poorly visible.
  3. Ectoendomycorrhiza: represents something in between that combines the features of previous types of mycorrhiza.

They successfully exchange among themselves the necessary substances.

Lichens can live up to 100 years

In alliance with mycelium, trees are capable of producing antibiotics that reliably protect organisms from bacteria and diseases. For example, the mycelium gives away water filled with minerals for the root system, and the tree supplies sugar in return.

Communication with plants

The symbiosis of fungi with plants, for example, in lichens, leads to constant development, new functions appear in organisms. In the middle of the XIX century, it was found that these groups of bodies are a unity of algae and fungi, and not individual organisms, as was previously thought. In this union, both symbionts get the most benefit.

Using chlorophyll, algae form an organic substance - sugar, which the mycelium feeds on, which equally protects against drying out and gives biologically significant elements. It receives these and other mineral substances from the substrate.

Thus, thanks to symbiotic ties, lichen can live both in hot deserts and in high mountains or northern regions. They are found on a variety of surfaces. These mysterious creations of nature consist of 300 compounds, include at least 80 unique elements. The symbiosis of the fungus and the root of the plant increases the life expectancy of the lichen. It is believed that there are species whose age is more than 10 thousand years. Common lichens found everywhere live about 60-100 years.

There is a connection between the fungus and humans. This is more amenalism than a mutually beneficial exchange. The production of alcohol based on yeast, which is a variety of mushrooms, has been going on for more than one millennium.


Symbiosis is not only cohabitation of woody, grassy organisms with mushrooms, but also an element of progress. Scientists say that not only competition is the main driving force of civilization, but also the help and interdependence of organisms.


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