The mutual relationship between vascular plants (flowering plants) and arbuscular mycorrihizal fungi (AMF) is the most prevalent known plant symbiosis.
Vascular plants provide sites all along their root systems where colonies of AMF can assemble and feed on the nutrients supplied by the plants. In return, the AMF supply phosphorus, nitrogen, and carbon in molecular forms that the vascular plants can readily assimilate.
AMF nodules, found on the roots of over 80 percent of all vascular plant species, played a crucial role in facilitating the rapid colonization of the continental landmasses by vascular plants. Without this symbiotic and widespread relationship between AMF and vascular plants, neither soulish animals (birds and mammals) nor human beings would thrive on Earth. In other words, the creation and maintenance of soulish animals described in Genesis 1:21 and of humans in Genesis 1:26-27 would be impossible without the symbiotic connection between vascular plants and AMF being established first.
A team of five biologists from the United States and Germany recently published the results from long-term field experiments that took up to 17 years to complete. They prove just how vital a role AMF plays in the survival and health of advanced life.1 The five scientists planted many fields of native multispecies prairie vascular plants and varied the abundance of AMF in the different fields from nonexistent to very rich. They used fungicides to inhibit the abundance of AMF and fires and nitrogen-fertilization to enhance the abundance.
The biologists discovered a very strong positive linear correlation between the abundance of AMF in a field and the abundance of nitrogen and carbon sequestered in the soil, in the degree of soil aggregate stabilization, and in the degree of water uptake by the plants. They concluded that “this highly significant linear correlation suggests there are serious consequences to the loss of AMF from ecosystems.”2 Direct consequences of AMF loss include a catastrophic loss in vascular plant biomass and soils that can be easily denuded by wind and water erosion. Indirect consequences include loss of food sources for animals and enhancement of global warming. The latter comes about through carbon no longer being sequestered in the soils and in the tissues of vascular plants.
Like all complex symbiotic relationships manifested in nature, the mutual support that AMF and vascular plants provide for one another poses a profound challenge to evolutionary models for life. The AMF cannot thrive without vascular plants, nor can the vascular plants thrive without AMF.
The challenge for evolutionary models is how to explain by natural means the simultaneous appearance of both vascular plants and AMF. An even greater challenge is (1) how to explain the plants “evolving” structures in their root systems to house the AMF and to channel carbohydrate resources to feed them; and (2) how to explain the AMF evolving the means to harvest phosphorus, nitrogen, and carbon, transform them into forms suitable for vascular plants, and provide transportation systems to channel these resources into the plants’ root systems. Furthermore, evolutionary models must explain by natural means the bringing together of the AMF and vascular plant root systems so they could form and efficiently sustain their symbiotic relationship.
It seems nothing less than a supernatural, super-intelligent Creator can explain all the intricate designs required in advance of launching symbiotic relationships. Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi testify, too, of the Creator’s desire to provide the human race with a rich, diverse, and stable treasure of bio-resources.
- Gail W. T. Wilson et al., “Soil Aggregation and Carbon Sequestration Are Tightly Correlated with the Abundance of Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi: Results from Long-Term Field Experiments,” Ecology Letters 12 (March 2009): 452-61.
- Wilson et al., 452.