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RE: Mycorrhiza

The interesting thread of mycorrhizal dependence is an perennial chestnut on
this list and was certainly raised by  Louis Chinnery about 2-3 years ago.
[Unfortunately I have had a hard drive failure since then so I cannot
provide a more exact reference.]
As I recall however nothing concrete came out of it - like WHICH ferns
exhibit any micorrhizal dependence and which don't.
Perhaps Steven's volunteer could enlighten us as to which ferns respond most
to the sugar treatment and which don't?
Is anyone aware of any other mechanisms which might explain this?

The web site www.soilfoodweb.com contains a lot of recent information on the
very diverse range of life in the soil and suggests that plants generally
obtain a continual 'bleed' of  nourishment from the corpses arising in the
"sub-turf" wars between the bacteria and the fungi living down there. One is
tempted to wonder if the sugar is not just supplying army rations to enliven
these microscopic troops into a further bout of mutual destruction which
then provides some rich pickings for the ferns?

I also wonder where ferns and Micorrhiza fit in the overall evolutionary
scale. Trees, and thus many orchids, are clearly "Johnny come latelies"
evolutionary wise. Perhaps ferns developed too early for Micorrhiza or did
so in an environment where such fungal assistance did not give them a
competitive edge?
I found Keith Roger's original reference site pretty heavy going - possibly
in need of some re-organisation - but thought the concept of trees or fungi
storing specific elements in winter because they could not obtain them
sufficiently readily in the growing season was rather intriguing. Could
ferns have developed at a time when such elements were more easily

But then again perhaps ferns do indeed co-exist with these micorrhiza and if
so which ones ecto or endo?

Apologies for the profusion of questions and the complete absence of

Barry Jackson,
Shivering @ -5?C in supposedly zone 9.
Wirral, UK.

-----Original Message-----
From: owner-ferns@hort.net [mailto:owner-ferns@hort.net]On Behalf Of
Nancy Swell
Sent: Thursday, February 13, 2003 4:34 PM
To: ferns@hort.net
Subject: Re: [ferns] Mycorrhiza

>Let me throw this out for comments.  My volunteer began doing something
>that seemed odd to some at the time, I being one for experimentation and
>curiosity watched for a bit.  She began supplementing the feeding cycle
>with a once a month 'sugaring.'  It is just what it sounds like, adding
>sugar to the water to feed the ferns.  What was noticed was a definite
>pick up in the growth of some of the buggers.  My theory is this has
>nothing to do with the ferns directly but feeds the soil fauna.  Anyone
>else take any measures on fortifying the little buggers in the soil in
>this kind of setting?

I kept alive some Lady Slippers with a sugar water supplement that only fed
the Mycorrhiza. Lost them eventually because ants appreciated the sugar
solution (they were outside). I think the defect in the Lady Slippers has
to do with sugar metabolism. I'm going to feed my ferns that are just
sitting there and see what happens.   Nancy

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