Capitalism in the soil
Nature may work the same way the good ol’ American business model does: more money = more goods.
In today’s world, a productive business makes more money and acquires more supplies. In the natural world, a productive plant makes more sugar and acquires more nutrients.
Mycorrhizal fungi are savvy business partners of 90% of plants on earth today. Living in plant roots, the sole job of mycorrhizal fungi is to uptake nutrients from the soil for the plant. As in good business practice, plants repay the fungi for their service in the currency of sugar, created from carbon dioxide and sunlight within their leaves.
A wealthy plant is a happy plant. With more “money,” it can afford more mineral nutrients, and use these basic building blocks to expand its business. It can now create more money makin’ leaves. With more leaves, it outcompetes other plants nearby.
This business partnership may be the oldest of its kind, about 400 million years old.
Learning how to exploit this fungi-plant partnership in agriculture would mean less use of fertilizer, cleaner water ways, and less soil erosion with large crop yields. Is it a miracle? No, it is simply the work of a skillful business partner.