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Rhizomorphs distribute water between plants: mycorrhizal fungi

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Fungi mycelia / Bob Blaylock / LicenseCC-by-sa - Attribution Share Alike

Rhizomorphs in mycorrhizal fungi maintain plant hydration by transporting fluid between the root systems of neighbooring plants

FUNCTION
Summary
"Plant roots may be linked by shared or common mycorrhizal networks (CMNs) that constitute pathways for the transfer of resources among plants…Our results suggest that the movement of water by CMNs is potentially important to plant survival during drought, and that the functional ecophysiological traits of individual mycorrhizal fungi may be a component of this mechanism." (Egerton-Warburton et al. 2007:1473)

"For example, the dominant taxa within the mesocosms, i.e. Boletus, Cortinarius, and Pisolithus, produce hydrophobic mantles and well-differentiated rhizomorphs, two traits considered typical of drought-resistant EM [ectomycorrhizal] (Agerer, 2001). These well-differentiated rhizomorphs transport and hold significant amounts of water in the large diameter vascular vessels (Duddridge et al., 1980; Brownlee et al., 1983; Agerer, 2001, see also Fig. 2). Lactarius produces smooth, undifferentiated rhizomorphs, whereas Cenococcum mycorrhizae form envelopes of external hyphae rather than rhizomorphs (Agerer, 2001) that promote more localized distributions of water (Fig. 4). Further, hyphal anastamosis by AMF may create large interconnected networks with low resistance to solute flow (Giovanetti et al., 2004)." (Egerton-Warburton et al. 2007:1482)
About the inspiring organism
Med_20100815_1818_mold Fungi
Fungi

Learn more at EOL.org
Organism/taxonomy data provided by:
Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life: 2008 Annual Checklist


Bioinspired products and application ideas

Application Ideas: More efficient water transport and irrigation systems that can be used in times of drought. Urban planning strategies that better connect resources between urban and farming communities. Model for connecting food transport systems and for moving materials and waste around a community. Metaphor for sharing resources.

Industrial Sector(s) interested in this strategy: Agriculture, forestry and fishing, Water supply, sewerage, waste management and remediation activities

Experts
Chicago Botanic Garden
Louise M. Egerton-Warburton
References
Egerton-Warburton, Louise M.; Querejeta, Jose Ignacio; Allen, Michael F. 2007. Common mycorrhizal networks provide a potential pathway for the transfer of hydraulically lifted water between plants. Journal of Experimental Botany. 58(6): 1473-83.
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