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Natural Sciences Education Abstract - Student Essays

Nutrient Exchange through Hyphae in Intercropping Systems Affects Yields


This article in NSE

  1. Vol. 42 No. 1, p. 24-27
    Received: Jan 8, 2013
    Published: March 20, 2013

    * Corresponding author(s): Tim.VonThun@gmail.com
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  1. Tim Von Thun *
  1. c/o R.R. Weil, Dep. of Environmental Science and Technology, H.J. Patterson Hall, Univ. of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742


Arbuscular mycorrhizae fungi (AMF) play a large role in the current understanding of the soil ecosystem. They increase nutrient and water uptake, improve soil structure, and form complex hyphal networks that transfer nutrients between plants within an ecosystem. Factors such as species present, the physiological balance between the plants in the network, and the total availability of nutrients influence the rate of nutrient transfer and its subsequent effect on crop yields. In most instances, the nutrient transfer facilitated by the AMF increases the yields of one crop while marginally impacting the yield of the donor plant. If harnessed correctly, AMF hyphal nutrient transfer could lead to an increase in intercropping systems and an overall increase in farmland productivity.

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