01 May Super mushrooms: Fungi and the vital part they play in ecosystems
Fungi play a vital role in energy cycling within, and between, ecosystems. They also play a necessary task and influence the well-being of human populations on a large scale because they are part of the nutrient cycle in the world’s ecosystems.
Fungi are found in terrestrial, marine and freshwater environments, and are part of a diverse community of “decomposers” that break down dead organic matter, which would otherwise not be recycled.
Unlike plants, mushrooms do not contain chlorophyll and do not require sunlight to grow. Therefore a lot of fungi can grow even in the darkest places and can thrive in seemingly hostile environments. Mushrooms do require a lot of moisture to produce their fruit; however, they can’t really hold onto water, so moisture is easily lost. For this reason, mushrooms need an environment that has high humidity levels to avoid water loss.
Curious about the different types of fungi that exist? Read more about them!
Symbiosis is the ecological interaction between two organisms that live together. The definition does not describe the quality of the interaction. When both members of the association benefit, the symbiotic relationship is called mutualistic. Fungi form mutualistic associations with many types of organisms, including cyanobacteria, algae, plants, and animals.
Plants require nutrients for growth, but nutrients are seldom freely available in soil or water because they are locked up in insoluble compounds. Plants, therefore, rely on decomposers to provide them with soluble nutrients that can be taken up by roots. Thus some species of fungi form symbiotic relationships with plants. Mycorrhizal fungi are associated with plant roots. This relationship is mutually beneficial because fungi facilitate the transfer of nutrients from the soil into plant roots, and in turn, receive carbon from the plant. Carbon is stored by fungi in the earth and is therefore not released as carbon dioxide.
Mycorrhiza, which comes from the Greek words myco meaning fungus and rhizo meaning root. Somewhere between 80 and 90 percent of all plant species have mycorrhizal partners.
Growing Mushrooms = Creating Fertile Soils
Saprophytic and parasitic fungi help create the organic components of topsoil, in alliance with endless numbers of bacteria, insects, and other organisms. An orchestra of primary, secondary, and tertiary saprophytic fungi convert wood into biodynamic soil components. These soils benefit plants that, in turn, use photosynthesis to manufacture their own foods.
Waves of mycelial networks (the underground wiring of fungal threads) join and permeate through one another. Mycelium holds landscapes together and is sentient. This interspersing of mycelial colonies is the foundation of soils worldwide. Although seemingly undifferentiated under the microscope, the ability of fungi to respond to natural disasters and sudden changes in the environment are a testimonial to their inherent intelligence. Mycologist Paul Stamets believes that mycelia are Earth’s Earth’s Internet, the essential wiring of the Gaian consciousness.
The largest living organism is a fungus (Armillaria ostoyae). This Humongous Fungus produces honey mushrooms. It is thought to be more than 8,650 years old and covers more than 3.4 square miles (8.8 km2) in the Blue Mountains of Oregon.
In the words of Paul Stamets: Native peoples worldwide have viewed fungi as spiritual allies. They are not only the guardians of the forest. They are the guardians of our future.
Find out more about the medicinal purpose of functional mushrooms powders and how they can benefit your health.