Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungal (AMF) are dependent on the plant for their food, therefore, they die when the plant dies. Lucky for us before they die they form spores that can live a long time in the soil.
When we have looked at the soil from vineyards in winter it is filled with fungal spores. Pictured here of some of the types of AMF spores. The size of these spores can vary from microscopic to visible.
The spore starts growing when it receives a chemical message from a nearby plant. It has a day or two to reach the plant, enter the root and build a little space called an arbuscule where it can get food from the plant. If it fails at this, the fungi dies. This is why we like to plant seeds with AMF. The plant feeds the fungi because the fungi send out long hair like structures called hyphae that bring minerals and water back to the plant. In fact, scientists have recently shown that the fungi and the plant actually barter with one another, i.e. when phosphorus is low, the fungi gets more food for delivery of phosphorus.
microBIOMETER® measures both fungi and fungal spores as well as bacteria. The lab methods of PLFA and Carbon Fumigation do not adequately measure spores. Standard microscopy also does not adequately measure fungi.