Mushrooms – The Unsung Super Heroes- Serving this Planet Selflessly

Fungi are older than plants on earth. The researchers have found that green algae and major lineages of fungi were present 1000 (Ma) million years ago and land plants appeared by 700 Ma possibly affecting Earth’s atmosphere, climate and evolution of animals. The Earth cools when you take away carbon dioxide and the biggest cooling effect came from the reduction of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by fungi and plants.

Mushrooms are fungi which may be edible, medicinal or toxic (poisonous) but in every form it is playing a hidden vital role for our mother earth and us. More than 14,000 mushroom species have been identified, about 10% of which are macro-fungi. Edible mushrooms are macro-fungi that can be seen with the naked eye in the form of fleshy fruit bodies.

Fungi are master decomposers that keep our forests alive. Without fungi to aid in decomposition, all life in the forest would soon be buried under a mountain of dead plant matter. 

According to Cardiff University biosciences professor Lynne Boddy. “Fungi are the garbage disposal agents of the natural world. They break down dead, organic matter and by doing that they release nutrients and those nutrients are then made available for plants to carry on growing.”

Mushrooms cannot synthesize their food like plants but are saprophytic in nature i.e. they feed on dead organic matter which could also be the agriculture waste or crop residue which is unmanageable by our farmers.

The mycelium (the vast root systems of mushrooms), goes deep into soil and absorb carbon dioxide from nature which keeps climate-warming carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere (some fungi can store 70 percent more carbon in the soil!) and can break some of the stored carbon into carbohydrates, which then act as nutrients for the soil. For maintaining healthy and sustainable environment; it is time to give attention to our primitive organism fungi which helped in creating the living conditions on earth millions of years ago.

Mushrooms are the “ultimate recyclers” as they convert waste from other sectors of agriculture into medium used to grow mushrooms. Thus, mushrooms  playing a very import role as Unsung Superheroes, serving this planet selflessly besides providing a healthy food and future.

By- Dr. Pooja D. Pandey (Ph.D. Biotechnology) 


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Hassan El-Ramady 1,2,* , Abdalla N , Badgar K , Llanaj X, Töro˝s G, Hajdú P, Eid  Y . Edible Mushrooms for Sustainable and Healthy Human Food: Nutritional and Medicinal Attributes. Sustainability 2022, 14, 4941

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