This is the time of year when I notice a lot of people buying their mycorrhizal fungi for planting and seeding, so I thought I'd just do a quick summary of some recent research that has shown that endomycorrhizal fungi (often referred to as arbuscular mycorrhizal, or AM fungi) take up more organic nitrogen from the soil environment than was previously thought.
Organic nitrogen (ON) means compounds like whole amino acids, not ionic nitrate, which the chemical companies have historically told us is the only way that plants get nitrogen.
This tends to be the big news in the mycorrhizae community as of late, as nitrogen is so important for plant health, and is often considered the limiting factor in plant growth/health, especially when our soils are often so low in organic matter. And mycorrhizal fungi have been generally associated with inorganic nutrients such as phosphate, and even ammonium and nitrate, but more research is now being done on forms of organic nitrogen. The big thing about this study was that they found a way to show this ON uptake in the field, rather than just in a lab setting.
So when we seed our lawns (and gardens) with mycorrhizal fungi, it's not just the phosphate that it provides. Nitrogen, in the organic form, seems to be a big part of the equation, too.
Check out the research here: http://www.mycorrhizae.com/index.php?cid=1100&;
For an incredible 18 minute video the connection between fungi and ecosystem health, watch Paul Stamets' 6 Ways Mushrooms Can Save The World here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XI5frPV58tY