In many species of plants, there is a symbiotic relationship happening in the roots with a species of fungus. The fungi are put into a diverse group called mycorrhizae which means "fungus root" or "root fungus". The mycorrhizae help the plant by increasing surface area to the roots allowing for more nutrient absorption and in some instances even protecting the root. The fungi benefit from working with the plant by being supplied sugar that the plant makes from photosynthesis. There are also species of mycorrhizae that are parasitic and are not helpful to the plant because they just take away all of the plant's resources. The diverse group of mycorrhizae is broken up into two larger groups based off of their morphology: endomycorrhizae, ectomycorrhizae. Endomycorrhizae, also known as arbuscular mycorrhizae, forms along the outer surface of the root and exchanges nutrients with the plant by inserting itself inside the plant cells. The complex the mycorrhizae forms with the root cell is called an arbuscule. Ectomycorrhizae form on the external surface of the root and exchange nutrients through the cell walls of the root cells staying outside of the cells. The ectomycorrhizae forms a complex with the root cells called a Hartig net. Mycorrhizae are extremely important to the overall function of many species of plants it is a symbiotic relationship that not only helps run ecosystems but helps to power our agriculture.
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