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Rhizophagus Irregularis

A Key Player in Plant Health & Growth

Rhizophagus irregularis, formerly known as Glomus intraradices, is a species of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF). This microscopic fungus forms symbiotic relationships with the roots of many plant species. As one of the most researched AMF, it's recognized for its ability to enhance plant health, growth, and productivity.

exposed roots, soil intact with the roots
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Biology & Mode of Action

Rhizophagus irregularis thrives in the rhizosphere, the area surrounding plant roots. The fungus penetrates the roots and forms tree-like structures called arbuscules within the root cells, facilitating a nutrient exchange between plant and fungus.

The fungus receives carbon from the host plant, which it uses for growth and reproduction. In return, R. irregularis provides the plant with crucial nutrients, especially phosphorus, by extending its hyphae far into the soil and effectively increasing the root's nutrient absorption area. It can also help the plant access other soil nutrients like nitrogen, zinc, and copper.

Benefits to Plants

The symbiotic relationship with R. irregularis offers multiple benefits to plants:

hand holding a portion of healthy soil

Improved Nutrient Uptake

The principal benefit provided by R. irregularis is an enhanced nutrient uptake, especially phosphorus. The hyphae of the fungus form a vast network that extends far into the soil, accessing areas and nutrients out of the reach of plant roots. This increased nutrient absorption can lead to significant improvements in plant growth and productivity.

  • Phosphorus Acquisition: Phosphorus is crucial for plant development, playing a key role in energy transfer, DNA synthesis, and other vital processes. R. irregularis effectively increases the surface area for phosphorus absorption, enabling plants to access this nutrient more efficiently.

  • Access to Other Nutrients: Apart from phosphorus, R. irregularis can also aid in the absorption of other nutrients such as nitrogen, copper, and zinc. These nutrients are crucial for various biochemical processes and overall plant health.

foliar disease

Disease Resistance

R. irregularis can boost a plant's immune system and increase its resistance to certain diseases. The fungus stimulates the plant's innate immune response, making it harder for pathogenic microorganisms to invade. In addition, the improved nutrient status of the plant can contribute to its overall health and resilience against diseases.

digging soil

Soil Structure Improvement

By creating a dense network of hyphae in the soil, R. irregularis can help improve soil structure. The fungal hyphae and the glomalin they produce can bind soil particles together, leading to the formation of aggregates. This aggregation improves soil porosity, water-holding capacity, and resistance to erosion.

tree trunk with extended network of fungal hyphae

Drought Resistance

R. irregularis can enhance a plant's tolerance to drought conditions. The extended network of fungal hyphae improves water absorption from the soil. In addition, the fungus can stimulate the production of plant stress hormones, helping the plant to better cope with water scarcity.

farmer holding fresh harvested tomatoes

Enhanced Plant Growth and Yield

The improved nutrient and water uptake facilitated by R. irregularis often translates into enhanced growth and productivity. Plants colonized by this fungus generally exhibit higher biomass, increased flowering, and improved crop yield.

newly planted trees, reforestation

Improved Plant Establishment & Survival

By aiding nutrient uptake and promoting growth, R. irregularis can also help plants establish in new environments, such as during reforestation efforts or when introducing new plants to a garden. The fungus can also increase a plant's chances of survival under stressful conditions, such as nutrient-poor soils, heavy metal contamination, or drought.

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R. irregularis is widely used in agriculture to promote crop growth, improve yield, and reduce the dependency on chemical fertilizers. The fungus is particularly beneficial for crops that require high amounts of phosphorus, such as corn, wheat, and soybeans.

Environmental Remediation

R. irregularis has potential in phytoremediation, a process that uses plants and their associated microorganisms to stabilize or reduce contamination in the environment.


In horticulture, R. irregularis is used to promote the growth of ornamental plants, shrubs, and trees. The fungus helps these plants establish quickly in their planting site and enhances their overall growth and flowering.

Biofertilizer Production

R. irregularis is often incorporated into biofertilizers - environmentally friendly alternatives to chemical fertilizers. These biofertilizers can enhance soil fertility, promote plant growth, and reduce environmental pollution.

Industrial Applications

R. irregularis finds applications in several industries:

Future Research and Applications

Ongoing research aims to further optimize and expand the applications of T. ferrooxidans. Genetic engineering could potentially enhance the bacterium's ability to tolerate harsh environmental conditions, increasing the efficiency of bioleaching and bioremediation processes. Future applications may also include carbon sequestration and energy production, adding to the bacterium's already impressive repertoire of capabilities.


Thiobacillus ferrooxidans is a fascinating organism with significant ecological and industrial roles. As our understanding of this bacterium grows, so does its potential for contributing to sustainable mining practices and environmental remediation.

Resources for Rhizophagus Intraradices

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