1. Attachments are working again! Check out this thread for more details and to report any other bugs.

Earth’s secret miracle worker: fungi

Discussion in 'Environmental Discussion' started by bwilson4web, Nov 11, 2021.

  1. bwilson4web

    bwilson4web BMW i3 and Model 3

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2005
    27,124
    15,389
    0
    Location:
    Huntsville AL
    Vehicle:
    2018 Tesla Model 3
    Model:
    Prime Plus
    Posting here was a coin flip:
    The earth’s secret miracle worker is not a plant or an animal: it’s fungi | Giuliana Furci | The Guardian

    Without fungi we don’t have bread, chocolate, cheese, soy sauce, beer or wine. They are also crucial to protecting our climate

    upload_2021-11-11_13-32-34.png

    Fungi are responsible for almost all our food production, and most of our processed materials. They are also to be thanked for many of the important medical breakthroughs in human history that treat both physical and mental ailments, for naturally sequestering and slowly releasing carbon, for optimizing industrial processes, and so much more.

    When most people think about fungi, they tend to associate them with decay. Many people mistakenly believe fungi are plants. However, fungi are neither plants nor animals but rather organisms that form their own kingdom of life.

    The way they feed themselves is different from other organisms: they do not photosynthesize like plants and neither do they ingest their food like animals. Fungi actually live inside their food and secrete enzymes to dissolve nutrients they then absorb.
    . . .

    Enjoy!

    Bob Wilson
     
  2. ChapmanF

    ChapmanF Senior Member

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2008
    23,278
    15,076
    0
    Location:
    Indiana, USA
    Vehicle:
    2010 Prius
    Model:
    IV
    It was pointed out to me kind of recently (I guess I'd never thought that much about it before) that the explanation for why we have fossil fuels today has something to do with a longish gap (150 million years or so) between when plants evolved lignin and could become trees, and when fungi caught up and developed ligninases to break them down. So during that long gap, trees could just fall over and remain that way long enough to get buried and become fuel. Today they'd just promptly become shroom food.
     
    Mendel Leisk and bwilson4web like this.
  3. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk Senior Member

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2010
    54,674
    38,219
    80
    Location:
    Greater Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
    Vehicle:
    2010 Prius
    Model:
    Touring
    Some local tree eaters.

    F9594C70-D370-4918-9D56-6F361EF826D5.jpeg
     
    tochatihu likes this.
  4. Salamander_King

    Salamander_King Senior Member

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2015
    10,963
    8,839
    0
    Location:
    New England
    Vehicle:
    Other Hybrid
    Model:
    N/A
    Our foraging season is almost over now. We had a very good matsutake harvest this year. Other mushrooms such as maitake (aka hen of woods), chanterelles, black trumpets, King Bolete, puffballs, shaggy mane, horse mushrooms, meadow mushrooms, oysters are all good eats. I inoculated ~100 logs with shiitake spores last year, but they have not produced fruitbodies yet. We make use of Aspergillus oryzae, the same fungus used for sake brewing, in our miso making. Oh, year, we also have Kombucha which is a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast (aka SCOBY).

    upload_2021-11-11_18-1-54.png
     
    Mendel Leisk likes this.
  5. bwilson4web

    bwilson4web BMW i3 and Model 3

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2005
    27,124
    15,389
    0
    Location:
    Huntsville AL
    Vehicle:
    2018 Tesla Model 3
    Model:
    Prime Plus
    Shiitake?

    I’ll be right over.

    Bob Wilson
     
  6. Salamander_King

    Salamander_King Senior Member

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2015
    10,963
    8,839
    0
    Location:
    New England
    Vehicle:
    Other Hybrid
    Model:
    N/A
    If you have had only cultured shiitake grown on sawdust sold in a supermarket, wait to taste the real log grown shiitake. BBQ on a grill with a dub of soy sauce, you will be in heaven. ;)
     
    bwilson4web likes this.
  7. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

    Joined:
    May 11, 2005
    107,703
    48,947
    0
    Location:
    boston
    Vehicle:
    2012 Prius Plug-in
    Model:
    Plug-in Base
    and psychedelics!
     
    Mendel Leisk likes this.
  8. tochatihu

    tochatihu Senior Member

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2004
    8,995
    3,507
    0
    Location:
    Kunming Yunnan China
    Vehicle:
    2001 Prius
    Welcome aboard, fungal fans!

    A recent movie you might be able to see:

    Fantastic Fungi: A film by Louie Schwartzberg on Mycelial Connection

    While foraging, please bear in mind that many tasty mushrooms are similar in appearance to poisonous ones. Leading to a somewhat famous quote "All mushrooms are edible - once".

    The largest organism on earth is

    Strange but True: The Largest Organism on Earth Is a Fungus - Scientific American

    (although it could be challenged by a big clump of clonal aspens in Utah)

    Some fungi emit spores at an acceleration of 180,000 times that of earth's gravity. That would do more than knock your socks off

    https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0003237

    ==
    The coal/fungal thing was first speculated in 1952 (it seems) but took a long time to catch on. So don't feel too bad for getting to the party late :D

    Permian mass extinction may have been caused by fungi getting way too frisky on land, but that idea has faded. Even so there is a unique pile of fungal spores showing that after the cause (frisky Siberian volcanoes or a space rock), fungi ate all the dead stuff.

    Way back before all that (and before coal), marine algae washed ashore and ... died, mostly. Somehow some hooked up with fungi and invented roots, and then there could be land plants.

    Of all human-developed plastics, fungi are able to break down all of them except for ABS plastic. Probably only because no one has looked carefully enough. There are many weirder human-developed chemicals, and fungi eat those as well. Bioremediation of soils.

    So, on balance, fungi seem to be handy to have around. Many amphibians and bats would disagree, but we can save that for later.
     
  9. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

    Joined:
    May 11, 2005
    107,703
    48,947
    0
    Location:
    boston
    Vehicle:
    2012 Prius Plug-in
    Model:
    Plug-in Base
    and then there's athletes foot, jock itch, ringworm, and a host of other fun fungus amongus
     
  10. bwilson4web

    bwilson4web BMW i3 and Model 3

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2005
    27,124
    15,389
    0
    Location:
    Huntsville AL
    Vehicle:
    2018 Tesla Model 3
    Model:
    Prime Plus
    Was the BLOB fungi? One that decided not to wait but kill someone.

    Bob Wilson
     
    bisco likes this.
  11. tochatihu

    tochatihu Senior Member

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2004
    8,995
    3,507
    0
    Location:
    Kunming Yunnan China
    Vehicle:
    2001 Prius
    I could not guess how many fungal diseases afflict plant and animal kingdoms. A lot. Includes 1.5 million human fatalities per year. There are many similarities between human and fungal physiology, so many excellent fungus killing chemicals do you too. So that's a problem.

    At the same time, the endless warfare between fungi and bacteria means that fungi have been sources of many anti-bacteria medicines. I do not know if those save more than 1.5 million human lives per year.
     
  12. tochatihu

    tochatihu Senior Member

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2004
    8,995
    3,507
    0
    Location:
    Kunming Yunnan China
    Vehicle:
    2001 Prius
    Steve McQueen's breakout movie success.
     
    bwilson4web likes this.
  13. tochatihu

    tochatihu Senior Member

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2004
    8,995
    3,507
    0
    Location:
    Kunming Yunnan China
    Vehicle:
    2001 Prius
    Fungal diseases on plants (we eat) are an excellent choice if one wants to indict Kingdom Mycota.
     
  14. ChapmanF

    ChapmanF Senior Member

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2008
    23,278
    15,076
    0
    Location:
    Indiana, USA
    Vehicle:
    2010 Prius
    Model:
    IV
    You have said little to explain why I can go buy a sack of n oranges at the grocery, and bring them home, where they all sit in the sack piled up on each other, and I look at them later in the week and have n − 1 perfectly fine oranges unaffected by that other one right there in the same sack that has gone furry all over and even removing it from the sack is some kind of hazmat operation launching spores at (what seems like) 180,000 g.

    ... and the rest in the bag will still be fine for 3 weeks more or so.
     
    #14 ChapmanF, Nov 12, 2021
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2021
  15. tochatihu

    tochatihu Senior Member

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2004
    8,995
    3,507
    0
    Location:
    Kunming Yunnan China
    Vehicle:
    2001 Prius
    True. Let me try. Those n oranges came from <n trees, one of which trees had flies or mites punching fungal spores into a fruit you got. Those flies or mites may have little interest in that work (they were drilling for sugar water), but their puncher-thingees were contaminated by spores. I speculate that other fruits on the infected tree were fuzzy at time of harvest, but those fruits were not taken. Further that the fuzzy is a Penicilium (a genus also known for anti-bacterial medicine mentioned above).

    Penicilium is not a spore launcher. It is a slouch in this regard. Without transfer agents, there would be a lot less of it 'going around'. But ecology is a jumble of intention and accident, if I may say so.

    Oranges (fruits of Rutaceae in general) have surfaces that have evolved to be unwelcoming to airborne spores. They are not slouches in this regard. But they are not 'punch proof'. I don't know how they could become so without major overhaul of architecture, because a fraction of a millimeter under the surface are cells very amenable to Penicilium growth.

    Fuzzy fruit fungi did the best they could, but lacked transfer agents to complete this task in your bag.

    There may be more to the story because citrus growers have worse fungi than this to deal with, and can use high-power fungicides before fruit filling, and post harvest includes detergent washoff, so those fungicides would never reach your lips. But nobody expected the Spanish Exposition :)

    ==
    Finally, peel that fuzzy orange and eat it happily. The part you eat has low pH and fuzzy cannot grow there. Even if you are sloppy with hand action, your low-pH stomach protects you.

    Emphatically this is not the case with all fungal-infected foods but that should be a story deferred.
     
    bwilson4web likes this.
  16. ChapmanF

    ChapmanF Senior Member

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2008
    23,278
    15,076
    0
    Location:
    Indiana, USA
    Vehicle:
    2010 Prius
    Model:
    IV
    The last such fuzzy one I removed from a bag literally left a pile of spores just from my handling it. Probably not quite a tablespoon. I suppose you're right about it not being much of a launcher, or it wouldn't have made a nice pile.

    How to get the pile out of the kitchen was a matter of some puzzlement. My first instinct with powdery things is to dampen them to keep them down, but I've learned to expect surprises from spores. They often seem to be quite hydrophobic and any attempt to dampen or mist them just makes (dry!) clouds of them.
     
  17. tochatihu

    tochatihu Senior Member

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2004
    8,995
    3,507
    0
    Location:
    Kunming Yunnan China
    Vehicle:
    2001 Prius
    Water with detergent and something like Clorox (TM). Work slowly and wear your COVID face mask. Not against Penicilium per se, but there may be other angry fungi and bacteria now in the mix.

    ==

    I do not want to terrify readers, but in confronting any microbial free for all, you should protect YOUR DAMN LUNGS. Top priority.

    I do want to terrify readers not to home brew their own penicillin. I just now saw a website promoting that and shall never provide a link to any like it. Don't sicken and die from idiots' advice. I had no idea that 'preppers' could be so evil.
     
    #17 tochatihu, Nov 12, 2021
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2021
  18. ChapmanF

    ChapmanF Senior Member

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2008
    23,278
    15,076
    0
    Location:
    Indiana, USA
    Vehicle:
    2010 Prius
    Model:
    IV
    Oh yeah. hydrophobic things ... detergent ...

    I knew that .......
     
  19. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk Senior Member

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2010
    54,674
    38,219
    80
    Location:
    Greater Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
    Vehicle:
    2010 Prius
    Model:
    Touring
    A couple more wood eaters I noticed yesterday:

    B07EE63C-D75F-4896-82A8-D6E50CB00AF7.jpeg 22366946-7981-4EE2-8FC6-9BDD22B3DEB9.jpeg
    (Second one may just be growing in mulch atop the stump, not sure.)
     
  20. Trollbait

    Trollbait It's a D&D thing

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2006
    21,721
    11,319
    0
    Location:
    eastern Pennsylvania
    Vehicle:
    Other Non-Hybrid
    On the possible terrify reader front, death cap mushrooms continue to spread across North America.
    https://slate.com/technology/2014/02/most-dangerous-mushroom-death-cap-is-spreading-but-poisoning-can-be-treated.html

    On the fascinating fugal front, their successful spreading is do to transferring to new host trees. "Fungi such as the death cap are ectomycorrhizal, meaning that they live symbiotically on the roots of trees. The fungus extends from the roots to form a network in the soil, called a mycelium, which is much finer than tree roots. The mycelium can more easily reach nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorous than the tree can, and it trades these nutrients with the tree in exchange for sugars, which the tree makes using photosynthesis." The death cap came in with European oaks, then moved over to native oaks, and are now found living with pines. Such species jump for a symbiotic organism is quite rare.