Ceriporia lacerata is a type of fungus that causes trees to rot, but researchers have recently discovered that the fungus holds significant potential in helping boost tomato yields and reduce the need for fertilizers.
Fertilizers are often used on tomato farms because the plant has a long growth period, requiring more nutrients than many other crops. As a result, farmers typically add large quantities of chemical fertilizers to increase their harvest. Doing this, however, is not only time-intensive and costly but also leads to soil and water pollution as well as a reduction in fruit quality.
In search of a better alternative, the new study from China’s Southwest University zeroed in on the HG2011 strain of the Ceriporia fungus.
As New Atlas explains, when growing on trees and present in the soil, HG2011 emits specific enzymes that help it obtain nutrients from the near environment. While doing so, it also frees up nutrients that would otherwise have remained “locked up” within the soil. These nutrients can then be taken up by the plant.
After testing the fungus in the fields, the research team found that it improved the nutrient uptake of the tomato plants in both fertilized and unfertilized soil, thus resulting in a higher yield. On top of that, the fungus also improved the fruit’s nutritional value and flavor.
The researchers now hope that farmers could eventually add the fungus to compost and use it as an affordable alternative to chemical fertilizers.