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Fungi vs Bacteria

Updated: Apr 26, 2022

We always get questions like: "How does ACF-SR differ from fungi based products?" Or, "my soil is bacteria dominant, and low in fungi populations. Why would I need more bacteria?"

Fungi and bacteria are both very important for overall soil health. Both need each other, but there are significant differences between the two.

By feeding your soil with function-focused bacteria (ACF-SR), you are promoting natural processes that enhance the right fungal activity for soil health and plant growth. Below, we talk about this in more, technical detail:

What's the difference between fungi and bacteria?:

Germination conditions for fungi:

In fungi, the right environmental temperature, available water/moisture and, the presence of specific nutrients are the most important environmental factors that aid spore germination. Plant roots may supply specific nutrients to fungi to aid germination. Other nutrient availability is provided by bacteria.

Germination of fungal spores depends on some or all of these factors:

  • Organic nutrients

  • Inorganic nutrients

  • Light

  • Temperature

  • pH

  • Signalling molecules

How do fungi eat?:

The mode of nutrition, or how fungi "eat" is called absorption.

Fungi obtain their food by transporting it through their cell walls. In order to eat, the spores that give rise to fungi must be dispersed to a location where there is food. After the spore germinates, the mycelium of the fungus must grow into its food. In other words, usually fungi must live in their food if they are to eat. If the food is composed of simple molecules such as glucose or sucrose, soluble food can be immediately transported through their cell walls. However, most food that a fungus might consume is composed of complex, organic compounds, e.g., cellulose, lignin, pectin, starch, etc., which is insoluble. In order for this food to be utilized by the fungus, it must be broken down into simpler molecules that can be transported through their cell walls. The complex materials are broken down into absorbable food by “exoenzymes."

Exoenzymes, made by both bacteria and fungi, are using valuable material and energy. These enzymes are secreted outside the cell, where they break down complex organics to produce absorbable food for the bacterium or fungi.

Commercial enzyme production from fungi is common. These are produced during high growth followed by some stress condition. Exoenzymes are not manufactured during spore form. This often makes survival of fungal products very challenging and likely not feasible for large scale agriculture.

ACF-SR promoting fungi growth:

Once germination occurs, spores - hyphae is formed

Hyphae is start of exoenzyme production

Before germination, fungi must be supplied the soluble nutrients (from bacterial exoenzymes). After germination, fungi can function on their own.

When ACF-SR is applied, soluble nutrients for germination of fungi increase. ACF-SR assists growth of fungi.

Many fungi survive as spores in soil. In that form, they are not contributing much to plant health. Adding the right functions with ACF-SR allows optimal plant / bacteria / fungi interaction. Food is more available, and the entire biomass benefits.

We add the functions into ACF-SR more so than the bacteria. The growth rate of bacteria that are producing these functions, compared to the bacteria that do not supply these functions is slower by definition.

Does ACF-SR take over my bacterial population?:

AdvancedAg bacterial species do not “take over” the biomass. They do not crowd out fungi. They assist the growth of all microbes. Then, plant / fungal / bacterial messaging (which is too complex to understand as of yet) can function better as the food sources are more available and can be utilized.

The entire biomass is enhanced due to more available nutrition. Signalling between plants / fungi / bacteria happens regardless, but with more nutrition and more diverse nutrition available, the signalling is more effective, and the natural biomass benefits.

For more on this, and more technical discussion, our Head Scientist, John Wong presents in the video below:

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