I dunno what Kind of mycorrhiza this would really count as? Should we consider it an extomycorrhiza with extraradical mycelial cords? Hmmmm well it glitters! and has a very confused infomercial on mycorrhiza too! Which is my warning that obviously I’m not an expert this is just info I collect for Fun and could’ve misread stuff yanno
Mycorrhiza - the symbiote relationship of a fungus and a plant (slime molds you affectionately) - of the funguses role in the plants rhizosphere (the layer of soil influenced by the waste products of roots and where the most soil associated microorganisms live - the root microbiome)
The bacteria and other microorganisms feed by grazing on the rhizodeposition - the casting off of old plant cells, adds carbon to the soil - and the secretion of proteins and sugars (called root exudates - a mucilaginous secretion of plant specific polysaccharides/long sugar chains, that stick to the tips of roots) While the roots provide the food the soil microorganisms and bacteria perform nutrient cycling (breakdown or reuse/reforming of organic or inorganic matter cyclically so that it can be used again for the production/creation of new biomass in the ecosystem? Water Cycle for example, lake water evaporates, condenses in the atmosphere, and then eventually precipitates back down into the environment again) and produce antibiotics needed by plants - right near their roots, since the soil microorganisms feed on the root exudates and then their own metabolic waste products are cycling or producing something of use to the plant in turn.
Hm hmm anyways Mycorhizza! Mycorhizza! Mycorhizzal Layerrre! So for mycorhizzal association symbiosis or mutualism or sometimes even fun and funky parasitism, the mycorrhiza fungus grows on the host plants roots tissues in either of two ways - intracellularly (taking place/involving the inside of a cell) or extracellularly (taking place/involving the space outside of the cells plasma membrane)
Arbuscular mycorrhiza (AM) fungus (AMF) is an intracellular version which involves the symbiont fungus getting into the cortical cells (of the cortex - an outer layer of a stem or root in a plant below the epidermis but beyond the vascular water veins) of the roots or vascular plants (so sorry mosses maybe next time bryophytes) to form arbuscules (sites of nutrient exchange in the mycorrhiza relationship) AMF are good at absorbing phosphorus, sulfur, nitrogen, and other stuff from the soil, so good in fact that it’s suspected that AMF eating up said elements and passing it on through the arbuscules to vascular plants is part of how vascular plants became widespread and prevalent enough to colonize most of the earth - the AMF mycorrhiza is the most common type of plant symbiosis out there, present in up to 80% of plants (Wao much fungus amongus plants and fungus are mutual(istic)s, besties even!)
Wikipedia: hyphal growth
Me: HYPHAE!!!! WE LOVE HYPHAE!!!
Let’s talk more about ✨Arbascular mycorrhizal fungus✨since it seems Fun ::3
So AMF comes to be in a nice three step recipe or spore germination (not dependent on host plants presence but can happen at an increased rate in the presence of root exudates - the polysaccharide or long sugars or proteins etc), hyphal growth (which is controlled - gasp! nooo fungus free thyself and spread hyphae everywhere! - by root exudates called strigolactones (chemical compound group created by roots, considered plant hormones - they promote mycorrhiza germination, get the host plant recognized As the host plant by the fungi parasites, and keep plant roots from budding too much into an energy deficient monster of a root system - Wao) and the soil-phosphorus concentration - lower concentration means more hyphal growth plus plant releases hyphal growth encouraging juice) and appressorium formation (appressorium is a special type of cell that is used for infecting host plants…. So this is the bit that worms it’s way into the cortical cells? Neat excuse me this shit can get through Mylar wtf fungus What Violence What Rage tis beautiful)
*points at chemotaxis* they’re in love your honor! (Platonically) - so remember how we said chemical signaling attracts the hyphae to gather to the host (also notably when host puts out come hither for symbiote purposes signals the hyphae grow in denser clusters around the host and when there’s Not they branch more) Anyways chemotaxis is movement of organism in response to chemical stimulus but it’s speculated the AMF fungus may experience host-specific chemotaxis (fig trees fig wasps fig trees fig wasps oh to evolve into codependency - is not my dream but live yours little arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi!)
Appressorium (burrows into your house and home) or infection structures (oh that’s such a Badass term) grows first on the epidermis of the roots (outside skin!!!!) then from there it punctures into the Parenchyma cortex (parenchyma in plants is the softer cell areas, so inside roots tough outside - it’s the nice chewy bits not the outside of the ginger you scrape off with a spoon yah Dig?) Once our Totally Not Invasive haha what’re you talking about it has benefits for the plants Shush Appressorium has gotten into the parenchyma the fungus super branches to form the arbuscule sites of nutrient exchange (the straw may be one hole - wasn’t that the mathematical answer? But it is bidirectional) arbuscule growth can be Paris type (coily! Going through cells to each new one) or Arum type (branched,in the spaces between cells) - which type depends on the host generally… since the host has a degree of control over the hyphal branching and arbuscule formation (the host says you may have Three sites of nutrient exchange and No More!!! Can’t disobey hospitality rules, that doesn’t abide by fae law after all oh dear does that mean mushroom are fae better go teach them how to Trick the host into breaking hospitality rules though that might be a bad idea as well)
OH THEYRE OBLIGATE SYMBIOTES? Nice hey wait that means they’re not super good at Saprotrophic nutrition?? But that’s onna the best sorts of extracellular digestion (phagocytosis is still winning because I’m fond of it) but!!! *oozes and digests decaying and rooting organisms* is such a close contender!!!! Oh well this burrowing stuff is neat too Dependent On Plant For Carbon Nutrition and all
Ectomycorrhizal (I have to sound that out in my head everytime I type it) fungus or EcM (eckem! May I have your attention) deal with around 10% of plant families (oh woah so AMF are tots winning huh) particularly Woody Plants! Like birches dipterocarps (who? Oh!!!!!!! Rainforest trees that’s ideal I love dipterocarps your branching system is very cool even if the competition is Tight), eucalyptus, oak, pine, rose families (rosaceae?), orchids (did you know some (is it most? All? Gastrodia?) orchids go through a stage of life where essentially their only source of nutrition is from their symbiote fungus? They can’t photosynthesize during this time so it’s the EcM feeding them OwO cool intersectionalism) and… other fungi from Basidiomycota (major subcategory or fungus, uhhh mostly Above ground when mature funguses it seems? Mushrooms, puffballs, stinkhorns, then a lot of living-on-plants fellows liek rusts (on leaves) and smuts (in the cereals) and more - filamentous fungi made up of hyphae with basidia cells (spore sites!) that gen produce four meiospores (haploid spores, meiosisized to quarter genetic information kinda? For remix purposes?)), Ascomycota (the Other big fungi phylum, in Dikarya (fungi subkingdom) sac fungi! Cause of the sac where they form ascospores which can move around on their own! Need for pollinators morels and baking yeast are sac fungi! Fun), and Zygomycota (an ex-phylum that became the phyla Mucuromycota (mostly mycorrhizal fungi and plant decomposers) and Zoopagomycota (often obligate parasites of other zygomycete fungi or animals, like nematodes NOOOO THE WORMS))
Some trees will have up to fifteen species of EcM in a symbiote with them (ahhhh????) also fun the EcM isn’t losing either cause while AMF have 80% of plant life there are only around 240 species but the EcM have approx 7750 species known but its suspected the numbers are closer to 20-25k (Wao!!!!)
Ectomycorrhiza grow in a hyphal sheath or a mantle around the end of the hosts roots and form a Hartig Net (net of inward growing hyphae that grow in between the epidermis and the cortex of the host, the space that acts as the site of nutrient exchange) sometimes despite being extracellular the EcM hyphae will penetrate the hosts cells, in which case it’s an ectendomycorrhiza mycorrhiza…. Outside of the mantle and root the EcM forms ectomycorrhizal extramatrical mycelium (or extraradical mycelium) which are filamentous hyphae that grow outwards into the soil with the ectomycorrhiza as the center point - the filamentous hyphae may be fine and hydrophilic (attracted to water) constantly branching in the soil to search for nutrients, or they may gather into rhizomorphs (or mycelial cords - parallel orientated hyphae, which are hydrophobic and strong for the purpose of transporting nutrients)
Pulling power from within at critical moments that change a character forevermore will always be a much stronger statement for me than when that character has to rely on external sources of power to fight the good fight. Of course there’s nothing wrong with using what you can, whatever is at your disposal to draw power from. Energy is shared at the end of the day. But I just think it’s stronger when you don’t have to draw from anything and the source of power entirely comes from within instead. Power that has been gathered and accumulated through experience; pain, trauma, grief - hardship of all kinds. Physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. It’s a stronger statement because, to me , it means that reality is at your beckon call and not the other way around. You’re the one in control of that power because it’s truly yours. It hasn’t come from someone or something else. It’s drawn from the well of energy already there.
Now Willow in Season 7 learns about the root system from the Devon Coven in England while she’s staying at Giles’ Westbury mansion: essentially rehabilitating herself from her Dark Willow evil trip in Season 6. Through the root system she learns that the Universe is all connected through it’s energy so a lot of her arc in Season 7 has to do with her drawing that energy from the Universe. Either to heal her injury in ‘Same Time, Same Place’ or to open a portal to another dimension in ‘Get It Done’ or to imbue herself with powers of a goddess through a mythical weapon; the Slayer Scythe in ‘Chosen’ in order to awaken all the Potential Slayers. And it’s all well and good and certainly consistent with what she learns about the root system. How the Universe is dependent on it’s physics to maintain and evolve itself. And I do very much like that endgame for her…. But I feel like it would have been a stronger statement if she used the power she accumulated throughout the whole show to do all this rather than channelling the power from somewhere else in the Universe: using conduits instead of just transferring the power that already existed inside of her to whatever it was she was trying to heal or open or awaken. And maybe she does do that to a degree, but for me it really isn’t clear when or where. They really miss the mark on explaining how she’s able to do anything she does in Season 7. As I said, I don’t have a problem with it as such because that is what she learns from the Devon Coven. But I would have just liked that stronger statement of the power within. Plus I feel it would have really done wonders for her own mental health. Those insecurities of not feeling worthy enough might have been resolved if the power used to do all the things she does was all her own and not from external sources. You could say that her own power wasn’t great enough to achieve that feat. To that I would have to say I disagree because the power she accumulated throughout the show, and especially her trip as Dark Willow, was very much akin and equalled to the power of a goddess. It was just used selfishly and malevolently rather than used to fight the good fight.
Energy is energy at the end of the day. It is neither “positive” or “negative” inherently. Only how it’s used or what it’s intended for determines that. So I think it would have been very possible for Willow to convert the power for evil to power for good. They didn’t do that ultimately of course but they most definitely could have - root system philosophy included.
[3 images. A plate of food. A group of people sitting at a table. A bowl of soup. Captions: The root system supports the branches. Every tree is known by its fruits. Save the trees! Return to the gold standard!]
Plants can recognize their kin!! Plants connect to each other through their root system and share resources. In a forest, old trees that have the access to more resources than they need, support the weaker ones and send them resources; the mother trees and the baby seedlings are sending signals trough the root system and talking to each other!!