MASSIMO BREGA, THE LIGHTHOUSE / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY MASSIMO BREGA, THE LIGHTHOUSE / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Germinating fungal spore. Light micrograph of mycorrhizal fungal spore (blue) that has germinated amongst roots. A hypha (tube) has grown from the cell. Spores are the reproductive cells of fungi. They can remain dormant for many years, waiting for the right conditions for germination. This fungus forms a symbiotic relationship with the roots of a vascular plant, known as a mycorrhiza. Both organisms benefit from this association. The fungus is able to access nutrient forms unavailable to the plant, process them and pass them on to the roots. The mass of hyphae also provide a large surface area for uptake of water and minerals. The fungus receives carbon compounds that the plant produces via photosynthesis.
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