- Plant roots are occupied by mycorrhizal fungi, which aid in their growth.
- Mikro-Tek uses Timmins-based Fungi to improve tree growth and help offset carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere.
And now, the company has received $3.7 million from the federal government to assist in commercializing its technology. “What we do is produce certain fungal organisms that enhance plant growth,” said Mark Kean, president of the company.
Kean founded the company in the 1990s and has studied mycorrhizal fungi, which can colonize the roots of nearly all plants. This results in increased nutrient uptake, allowing plants to grow more quickly.
According to Kean, the specialized fungi are especially useful in environments where plants may have a limited supply of nutrients to draw from, such as reclaimed mine sites.
His company identifies the specific fungi that work best with particular tree species. To accelerate growth, a pine, for example, may require different microorganisms than spruce.
Kean stated that these fungi had been used to plant trees in Chile, the United States, and Ontario.
His team will return to a site where they planted treated seedlings 20 years ago for one upcoming project. Then, they’ll be able to compare the performance of their fungi-assisted trees to those that didn’t receive a boost in the same region.
According to Kean, the company’s ultimate goal is to assist carbon offset projects around the world and assist in the rehabilitation of former mine sites.
According to Justine Karst, an associate professor at the University of Alberta who specializes in microbial ecology in forests, hundreds of lab studies demonstrate mycorrhizal fungi’ beneficial effect on plant growth.
They discovered that the fungi had little benefit for their pine seedlings. However, Karst claims that the seedlings were planted in an area with naturally occurring fungi.
“So everything we were doing was just redundant,” she explained. Karst believes the fungi could be more effective in areas where natural disasters, such as fires, or human industry, such as former mining sites, have been impacted by natural disasters. She believes Mikro-work Tek’s could be useful in less hospitable areas to plant life and the natural fungi that aid in their growth.
Source: CBC News