Some fungal endophytes lay dormant in a single plant their entire lives, until the plant senesces or dies. These opportunistic fungi then feed off the dead plant tissue and recycle it back into the environment in the form of carbon and other essential nutrients. Nutrients create more fertile soils, which in turn promote healthy growth of native trees and shrubs.
At MPG, we used saprotrophic fungi to help us restore compacted and unfertile soils on an old logging road. Last fall we covered the road with wood chips and slash. We then sprayed it down with live cultures of fungal saprophytes to promote decomposition and increase the rate at which carbon is recycled back into the soils.
As the woody material decomposes, we hope it will replace the organic top layer of the soil and promote native plant growth. Networks of fungal hyphae, shown in the pictures above, lace through the layer of woody debris and slowly decompose the nutrient rich material.