To state that the environment of the corn seed when planted in spring is complex is an understatement. Physical factors like temperature and water would seem obvious but the interactions with the germinating corn seed and surrounding microbes is not always clear. Some have the capacity to destroy the root tissue and are thwarted by resistance factors in the corn root tissues. A few microbes appear to cause a reaction by the plant that not only results in less root damage from pathogens but cause the root to grow faster.
A strain of the fungal species Trichoderma harzianum designated as T22 has been shown to increase root growth in young plants of several species including corn. Use of this fungus as an inoculant has been shown to be helpful, at least in certain stress field environments. This especially has been true with shrunken2 sweet corn (supersweet), varieties that are known to have considerable less germination percentage than most commercial field corn. It is as if the weakened cells are stimulated to grow, perhaps repairing cell membranous structures, as well as warding off potential pathogens.
Use of biologicals such as strains of Trichoderma have been shown to result in larger roots in some early season environments and consequently better uptake of minerals and water. There remains a lot to learn about the interactions between the plant tissue, fungus and environments. I am always impressed by what we know about corn plants and what we don’t know, especially about interactions of corn in its environment.
About Corn Journal
The purpose of this blog is to share perspectives of the biology of corn, its seed and diseases in a mix of technical and not so technical terms with all who are interested in this major crop. With more technical references to any of the topics easily available on the web with a search of key words, the blog will rarely cite references but will attempt to be accurate. Comments are welcome but will be screened before publishing. Comments and questions directed to the author by emails are encouraged.