Microscopic inhabitants on plants

Coniferous forest
Microscopic inhabitants on plants

About one billion microorganisms are concealed in a single gram of soil! A meaningless statistic? Not really… Those living things have a direct influence on the growth of plants.

Like animals, plants coexist with the surrounding microorganisms. Those are essentially bacteria, fungi and protozoans. Gathered in one spot, all these microorganisms together form what we call a “microbiota.” And that microbiota differs according to the place where we find it.

In humans, a microbiota is found in the intestines, in the mouth and on the skin, for example. In the plant world they’re hidden above all around roots, although they can also be found on the surface of stems and leaves, and even inside tissues.

In fact, a plant is coated with microorganisms starting at the seed stage.

A win-win situation

As is the case with animals, plants have learned to coexist with all these species, developing different types of relationships. Some species are harmful for plants, while others thrive on exchanges in which everyone’s a winner.

That’s the case of the connection enjoyed by trees with certain fungi that colonize their roots. The tree supplies sugars and amino acids to those microorganisms, which in return transform nitrogen so that it can be absorbed by the tree.

Bacteria lodged in the needles of certain conifers play the same role. Even the microbiota of the leaves contributes positively to the plant. In a word, microbiotas make plant life easier.

So the next time you water your plants, have a little thought for all the creatures that are swarming on and underneath them!

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Delphia Horn

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