Below are some common questions that MycoBloom has received about mycorrhizal fungi or our mycorrhizal products. Dr. Koziol will answer these questions. Dr. Koziol is a mycorrhizal ecologist with 10 years of experience collecting wild fungi and growing mycorrhizae in sterile culture for scientific research. Dr. Koziol grows and maintains all of MycoBloom’s mycorrhizae.
What species are in MycoBloom’s mixture?
We include 7 species of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (endo-mycorrhizae) in our most common fungal mixture, Claroideoglomus claroideum (formerly known as Glomus claroideum), Funneliformus mosseae (formerly known as Glomus mosseae), Cetraspora pellucida, Claroideoglomus lamellosum, Acaulospora spinosa, Racocetra fulgida and Entrophospora infrequens. We mix our blend of mycorrhizae species so that at least of one spore per cubic centimeter is present for each of our species when they are packaged.
We do have other species of AM fungi available and may diversity our mixture in future years.
Why do you use so many different species?
We have selected these species because they have been shown to provide a diverse range of benefits to plants hosts. For instance, R. fulgida has been shown to stimulate plant defensive pathways, which can help a plant protect itself from bugs and herbivores. E. infrequens is a difficult to grow fungus, sometimes taking 10 months of culturing before it can be harvested for our fungal mixture. But this species has been shown to be very helpful for rare & late successional plant species (See Koziol & Bever 2016b in literature section).
Where can I buy MycoBloom fungi?
As of this moment, you can only buy MycoBloom direct from us via PayPal on our “Contact and Order” webpage, through eBay, or by means of through our MycoBloom Amazon store. We also accept payment via check, but please contact us first. We currently do not provide MycoBloom to any third party sellers. Buying from us via check or online via PayPal is the best way to ensure viable mycorrhizae reaches you. Purchasing directly from MycoBloom via PayPal ensures that the product is shipped only once, from our porch to yours. This will limit the exposure of the fungi to harsh outdoor conditions such as a hot UPS truck, freezing temperatures, etc. Additionally, we are able to offer products at a lower cost by avoiding fees charged by online webstore hosts. Buying direct from us, we can pass the savings on to you.
What concentration are the fungi?
Because our fungal mixes range in spores per cubic centimeter depending on harvest date, we do not report a definite concentration on a given package of MycoBloom. The fall 2016 harvest had a concentration of ~30 spores/cm3 of our 7 species at the time of packaging. As for the number of propagules or CFUs, these counts can also include fungal hyphae, which can lead to inaccuracies, as some mycorrhizal species do not reproduce well from hyphae segments. Additionally fungal hyphal propagules can be chopped up nearly infinitely during processing to increase propagule number. Therefore, we do not report propagule numbers.
My other favorite brand’s myco product has 3200 spores/gram. Why doesn’t this mean that it’s 100X better than MycoBloom?
Firstly, that is weird. We haven’t yet observed anywhere near that spore concentration in nature…or even in the other myco products out there that I have looked at. Samples from nature have a great range of spores/cubic centimeter. We typically find about 15 spores/cubic centimeter in soils we collect from remnant prairie soils.
There are absolutely no regulations in the world of selling mycorrhizal fungi, and mycorrhizal growers can tell you anything that they want, including that their product has 3200 spores/gram. We could lie and say that MycoBloom has 194 spores/grams and the typical customer would not be able to verify that information. This leads into my second point-which is that fungi are living things that are difficult to quantify. To verify spore counts, you would need training in a mycology laboratory in addition to expensive equipment, a microscope, centrifuges, sieves, etc. We have all these things and quantifying spore counts is still difficult. Additionally, spore count varies per batch because of natural fluctuations in our culture growing environment and the way we combine our diverse mycorrhizal species mixture. Finally and I think most importantly, spore count does not matter much from a plant’s perspective. If a few viable spores are present, they will grow, proliferate and infect your plant roots. I have started cultures in a 2 gallon pot with a single spore before. Yep, 1 spore. It’s my expert opinion that from a plant’s perspective, adding a few viable spores of beneficial fungi may be the same as adding 6000 spores of a beneficial fungus. Thus, as long as a product is living when it reaches you, it should be fine and spore counts of 10 or 1,000 spores/cm3 will not matter much to your plant.
I’ve read on the forums that Glomus intraradices is the best and most prolific mycorrhizae fungus out there. Can you grow me some Glomus intraradices?
When it comes to Glomus intraradices (now known as Rhizophagus irregularis), I have only cultivated it for research purposes. MycoBloom's goal is to provide locally adapted fungal mixtures that include fungi that can be found in healthy ecosystems. This, we have collected mycorrhizae from intact and non-disturbed ecosystems to culture in the lab. I have maintained mycorrhizal culture libraries from 7 prairie grassland sites, ranging from North Carolina to California. In each of my sites, I have not observed Glomus intraradices. That’s not to say it doesn’t exist in nature. I mean, it came from somewhere, originally. But it doesn’t seem to be a very abundant mycorrhizae in the environments we hope to restore. Thus, we cannot recommend it to our restoration customers and do not include it in our mixtures.
But intraradices is the most beneficial fungi that ever lived…
This idea is very popular on the websites of people who grow and sell mycorrhizal fungi and from web forums written by people who read those websites. I understand why growers promote G. intraradices. It can be beneficial, and it’s a suuuuuuuuuper easy to grow. From a mycorrhizal grower’s perspective it is one of the easiest fungi to work with because it is hugely aggressive and it can be cultivated in 2.5 months, which is great for making tons of products and profits.
But I don’t think G. intraradices is the most beneficial species out here. I’ll have some papers coming out soon on this topic. I’ve worked with several dozen mycorrhizal species, and lots of them are beneficial. G. intraradices is among a group of beneficial fungi. And I think being “beneficial” is largely context dependent. I will tell you one story to illustrate this. One of our Indiana species, I call it “Pel,” is not a growth promoter on our Indiana soils. But, species in Pel’s genus have been shown to promote plant defensive compounds, buffing them up against herbivores. So even though Pel wasn’t known to us as a great growth promoter, it might benefit plants that might be hit by lots of pests. So, we started including Pel in our main fungal mixtures. I recently started growing Kansas mycorrhizae species on Kansas soils. I tested our Indiana Pel on the Kansas soils with a few replicates of late successional milkweed species, just to see how they grew. Lo and behold! Pel was an awesome growth promoter on the Kansas soils. This is what I mean by context dependent, whether or not mycorrhizae are beneficial can depend on loads of things, such as soil type or growing media, plant host, soil moisture, soil depth etc.. We at MycoBloom believe that mycorrhizal species diversity is the best way to make a mycorrhizal mixture that can be “beneficial” given the diverse range of contexts in which our customers apply MycoBloom mycorrhizae.
We are being asked to seed a native wildflower/grass seed mix on 2.3 acres of bare soil. Apparently all of the topsoil has been removed and we are left to seed the site as is. Would this be a candidate for an inoculant application using your mycorrhizae?
Yes! This is the exact landscape that could benefit from mycorrhizal fungi. Top soil disturbance, such as tillage and in this case removing the top soil, can lead to mycorrhizal communities that are less species diverse and less abundant. Soil disturbance can completely remove some beneficial AM fungi. Thus, adding a mycorrhizal amendment could greatly help those plants that rely on soil fungi.
Will my phosphorus fertilizers kill these fungi?
Fertilizers high in phosphorus don’t necessarily kill fungi, fertilizers can make fungi functionally redundant from a plant’s perspective. If a plant can quickly and easily get all of the nutrients it needs, there is no point in investing associations with mycorrhizal fungi.
Most organic fertilizers have relatively low phosphorous and can be used with mycorrhizal amendments. Some inorganic fertilizers have high levels of phosphorus can render the fungi functionally redundant and they can die back. (High phosphorus can also be bad for the environment which is why some mycorrhizae products that include a bunch of phosphorous have legal disclaimers on them warning of their harmful effects.) MycoBloom does not add inorganic phosphorus to their products.
If I have had to use inorganic fertilizers in experiments with my mycorrhizae, I have used a 20-20-20 fertilizer or less potent, such as a 20-0-20 without inhibiting fungal colonization. I once tested weekly applications of 10-54-10 and found that mycorrhizae were less abundant. Repeated use of phosphorous at this strength may lead to less mycorrhizae over time.
How is your product different from other products?
The key phrases would be local adaptation, species diversity (which I have talked about a bit already), and ecological application.
Unlike, many of our competitors, MycoBloom's goal is to provide locally adapted fungal mixtures. This is because the most recent scientific literature has suggested that locally adapted, reference ecosystem fungi are better than fungi from random locations. Here is a great example of this (See Maltz’s paper by googling DOI: 10.1111/rec.12231). Our competitors may not know where their fungi originated from, or even what country. I can think of a particular competitor that uses soil microbes isolated from South America. We don’t know what effects these foreign soil microbes have in US soils. One study found that commercial inocula of unknown origin resulted in negative effects on inoculated plants AND outcompeted and replaced some native fungi in the soil (See Middleton’s paper DOI: 10.1890/ES15-00152.1). Our fungi have been collected from natural pristine prairie ecosystems in the US. We maintain collections of fungi from several states in the Midwest. If local adaptation is important in your project, just email us to talk about it.
Additionally MycoBloom stands apart from other companies because of Dr. Koziol’s scientific background and training as a plant and mycorrhizal ecologist. Dr. Koziol was trained in an academic setting in one of the most advanced mycorrhizal laboratories in the US and has an extensive research background on the ecology and application of mycorrhizal fungi. Most of her work involves native plant responses to native mycorrhizae, but she has also dabbled in research with vegetable garden species, and most recently perennial agricultural species.
Could you tell me what substrate the fungi are in, and if there are any added plant foods or nutrients? What is in the bag when I open it?
Our mycorrhizae are microscopic, so don’t be expecting to see them. The growing media is around 70% calcined clay. The remaining 30% consists of fine sand, sterilized soil, sometimes very small amounts of peat, vermiculite, perlite, roots, and other plant debris such as root fragments, un-germinated plant seeds, etc.
How long does MycoBloom product stay good after it is opened? Not all of the MycoBloom I plan to order for next year will get used, depending on how far I get in my landscaping and gardening project so would like to know how long it will keep and still be good?
The best by date of MycoBloom depends on your storage methods. If kept dry and in a moderately temperature controlled environment, we suggest that MycoBloom fungi be used 1.5-2.5 years from the date you will have purchased your product. This is usually stamped as a best by date on the product. However, we have found that some species in our mycorrhizal mix can persist at room temperature for five-ten years. Thus, MycoBloom can be used after the "expiration" or best by date, but some species in the mix will be less prevalent and the overall concentration of viable spores will be lower.
Another thing to consider is where you bought your MycoBloom. Buying from us online via PayPal is the best way to ensure viable mycorrhizae reaches you. This is because we ship MycoBloom direct from our storage. Buying from other locations, such as Amazon, things become more complicated. We ship MycoBloom to Amazon, and they distribute to their warehouses as needed before you order it and it is shipped to you. They can and do shuffle products around to different warehouses across the country. The more times MycoBloom is shipped around, the more likely it is exposed to harsh conditions; super-hot UPS truck beds, freezing temperatures as a package sits on your porch step etc., which could reduce the quality and viability of the mycorrhizal mixture.
So I put MycoBloom in container with quick oats, molasses and water. So far no white fuzz. Only fermentation. I have run this check with other mycorrhizal products and the white fuzz would grow. What's up with your product?
The white mycorrhizal fuzz is most typical of ectomycorrhizal fungi. We specialize in endomycorrhizal fungi (many species in the Glomus genus), which typically do not much create white fuzz around roots.
Can I grow these fungi myself?
Mycorrhizae are easy to grow, but hard to grow consistently in mixture. If you tried to reculture our mycorrhizae mix, likely only the weediest fungal species would outcompete the others. As is true with plants, the fast growing, weedy ones aren’t necessarily the most beneficial. To combat this, we have to grow our many mycorrhizae species separately and then remix all of the species together before packaging. This is difficult, as some species require 3 months of growth, while others require 10 months of growth. In my ten years of experience growing mycorrhizae, I have found that this is the most effective way to make a diverse fungal mixture from which plants can select their most beneficial isolates.
I put out the mycorrhizae and I don’t see any differences. What gives?
Several things could be going on. 1) If you are planting outdoors, you may already have a healthy mycorrhizal community and adding more mycorrhizae won’t improve your plant’s response 2) Plant and microbe symbioses are dynamic in nature and can also be context dependent. For instance, your corn may not love fungi now, but if there is a drought, they may be highly dependent on their soil mycorrhizae to maintain soil moisture. 3) The fungi were dead when they arrived to you. Consider purchasing MycoBloom direct from us via PayPal to ensure you receive the freshest product available.
What plants have you seen respond to these mycorrhizal species?
Here is a list of the plants that I have growth with and without MycoBloom isolates and their mycorrhizal responsivenesses. Mycorrhizal responses is the plant growth with fungi/ growth without fungi. You can think of it as how many times larger a plant grew with these mycorrhizae verses in sterilized soils.
Why is there licensing agreement info on MycoBloom’s label? Other products I see don’t have licensing agreements on them?
These fungi have been isolated by many scientific and restoration researchers at Indiana University and beyond (see the publications section). That being so, these fungi are the intellectual property of the researchers at Indiana University, as these fungi were collected using the microscopes, centrifuge, sieves, autoclaves, and personnel funded by Indiana University. Other products may not have licensing agreements because their fungi were not collected by publically funded research scientists.
When it comes to using MycoBloom fungi, the licensing agreement probably does not affect you. The only way it will affect you is if you try to SELL MycoBloom, as Indiana University does not allow other individuals or entities to sell the mycorrhizae isolated using their facilities or equipment without proper licensing. Selling plants that you inoculated with MycoBloom does not violate the licensing agreement.
So fungi need plants to grow and so they trade nutrients from the soil so the plant supports them. Then why do others provide mycorrhizal inocula that is soilless or grown in powder?
That is a great question….for the other guys.
Will the chlorine in my water harm these fungi?
No, we have also used city water to water our mycorrhizal cultures. MycoBloom fungi survive just fine with city water.
Are MycoBloom mycorrhizae organic?
We are not an organically certified grower of mycorrhizae (if that is even a thing yet). However, we maintain organic practices, as the fungi do not require any inorganic or not organic amendments. We do not use pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, or inorganic fertilizers with our mycorrhizae. We have had our fungi be approved for use on organic farms before. We’d be happy to talk to your organic certification representative if you need us to.
Where will you ship MycoBloom fungi?
At MycoBloom, we specialize in locally derived mycorrhizal mixtures. We prefer to ship fungi based on their ecoregion of origin if at all possible. Our general policy includes shipping to the continental US states. We ship USPS flat rate or UPS ground shipping. Contact us if you require alternative shipping methods.
Can you use this on bare rooted plants?
Certainly. Mycorrhizae can help plants respond to disturbance and what could be more disturbing to a plant than having bare roots before? We recommend that our mycorrhizae mixture be buried beneath soil or growing media at transplanting so as to quickly make contact with the roots.
Why do you 3 to 5 5-gallon buckets of inocula (150-250 lbs) per acre for restorations? Other brands recommend 20-70 lbs. per acre.
We recommend adding 3 to 5 5-gallon buckets of inocula (150-250 lbs) per restored acre where more is needed in more disturbed soils and in soils with a history of agriculture. Of course, you are welcome to test your own application rates. In doing research, you will find that 150 lb/acre is much greater than what many other mycorrhizal growers recommend. Regrettably, it has been shown other available commercial mycorrhizae were not very effective in restorations of many different community types (see the work of Maltz et al. DOI: 10.1111/rec.12231, It is open access). This may be in part due to lower recommended application rates than what is actually needed. The science has not yet answered what the minimum application rates are. We have started experimenting with this. You know, as a scientist, I like to generate real data before I make recommendations. I think that the biggest reason that most commercial inocula are ineffective is because both plant and soil microbes such as mycorrhizae can be locally adapted to their specific soils.
What is local adaptation?
Both plants and mycorrhizal fungi can be locally adapted to their specific soils. By that I mean, you can take a beneficial fungus from your potato field in Utah, but put that Utah potato fungus in a non-local environment, such as a prairie restoration in Missouri and plants may not respond well to it. Even potatoes may not respond to it well in Missouri. In this example, the fungus is not adapted to the Missouri soils and may not be able to effective gather nutrients from the new soils. Or maybe the soils are too wet, too dry, too acidic, etc. for the fungus to survive. While some fungal species are more generalists, meaning that they may be fine and beneficial in a restoration in Indiana as well as in a garden in California, many fungi are less able to quickly adapt. This is one of the reasons we try to make our culture mixtures genetically diverse by including so many different mycorrhizae species, to provide you with a mycorrhizae product with the greatest chances of success in a diverse range of environments.
Although there is a lot of momentum to select native and locally adapted seed sources for plantings, there hasn’t yet been a push to include locally adapted microbes into these same environments. Scientists have discovered how important it may be to include locally adapted microbes with your locally adapted plants. One group (see Middleton et al. 2015 on our publications page) tested our locally adapted native grassland fungi and other commercial fungi at the same application rates and found that the other commercial fungi resulted in more death and smaller plants than the controls where as our native fungi promoted plant survival and growth across the three years of the study. Others have tested this more generally across a diver range of habitats and found this to be consistent (DOI: 10.1111/rec.12231). As of 2017, MycoBloom is the only source of locally adapted collections of mycorrhizal fungi tailored to prairie grassland communities. We hope to grow our collection in the future to capture mycorrhizal communities isolated from across the US.
Will you grow me a locally adapted culture collection?
The short answer is yes! The long answer if probably not. The ecology of the AM fungi may be the biggest limitation to getting locally adapted mixtures ready for mass production. It takes many long hours logged at the microscope just to start the first round of culturing. I mean months of work. After that, the fungi require 3-10 months of growing in a greenhouse to before being checked to see if they were successful. Because soooo many attempts at isolating fungi from nature fail the first year, around 70 different species cultures must be started per site to create a diverse AM fungal community. Successful cultures need to be “bulked up” the following growing season. All in all, it’s a 2-3 year process-all the while having access to sterile greenhouse, laboratory, etc. Its lots of work! But if you are interested in growing mycorrhizae for a large scale restoration project, or projects, it is definitely worth it! Contact us with any questions.
I already have seedlings growing and when I transplant them into the garden, can I just sprinkle this product on the roots and then plant? Also, once I inoculate the garden this year, will I need to do it again next?
Yes, sprinkling some MycoBloom into the hole where you plan to plant your seedlings is one method of inoculating. Inoculating at planting can work, it may just take a bit. Fungal spores may take 2-3 weeks to germinate. I like my seedlings to have the best chance of survival immediately at the time of planting, so I usually start my seedlings with MycoBloom and plant them around 4 weeks later, after the spores have germinated and are associating with the plant roots.
On reinoculating, it depends on how much you disturb your garden. If you move the soil around, such as with tilling or turning over soil, this type of disturbance will harm the mycorrhizae and reinoculation may be needed yearly. If you are planting perennial species, then reinoculation is not necessary.
Do you give any discounts?
We do offer a whole sale discount to anyone purchasing ¼ ton or more (minimum of nine 5-gallon pails). Contact us for more information.
Can you use MycoBloom in hydroponics? Can this product be mixed into drip irrigation?
MycoBloom is a granular product with small amounts of soil in it, so it would not work well with hydroponics or drip irrigation. Most species of mycorrhizae sink and do not float in water, so I am not sure how drip irrigation applications of mycorrhizae would work with any product. I can think of two species that float, F. mosseae and A. trappei. I have only ever seen F. mosseae in myco products before. Still, I wouldn’t want you to irrigate with a single floating species of mycorrhizae. Perhaps you should ask those who claim their product can perform in suspension.