Fungi help plants live with heat and salt, according to an article in ScienceNOW 10 August 2006. Rusty Rodriguez, a microbiologist at the US Geological Survey studied panic grass, which grows in hot soil in Yellowstone Park and coastal dune grass that grows in dry, salty soil to see if symbiotic fungi, known as endophytes, normally found in these grasses helps them tolerate such unfavourable conditions. They experimented with grasses and other plants in their lab, growing them with and without endophytes and found they not only grew better with the endophytes, but the fungi also helped them tolerate different soil conditions. Corn, tomatoes and watermelons were able to survive hot conditions when they took up endophytes from panic grass, and were able to tolerate salty soils when they took up endophytes normally found in coastal dune grass. Gopi Podilla, a fungal molecular biologist at the University of Alabama commented that it would be “a tremendous boon” if the fungi could be used to enable farmers to grow crops in marginal soils.

Editorial Comment: These experiments add to an increasing understanding that plants and fungi are meant to work together, and it is only when one of them goes wrong that the fungi damage the plant. This fits with Genesis, which tells us that the world was created very good. Having fungi that enable plants to grow in different soil conditions is a way of ensuring that there is a plentiful supply of food all over the world. Since the beginning the world has degenerated due to human sin and God’s judgement, and fungi, plants and soils have degenerated. (Ref. symbiosis, ecology, mycology)

Evidence News 12 Dec 2008