General, Research, Technology

Can mushrooms save the planet and save us from disease?

What do you know about mushrooms? In fact, we are faced with representatives of the "third kingdom of nature" much more often than you might think. Each time you see mold on products, drink cool kvass, feel itching after a mosquito bite, or receive an injection of antibiotics, you encounter mushrooms or direct results of their activity. From ancient times, people felt that mushrooms are very different from plants and animals, they were considered something otherworldly, associated with the underworld. Today we know that fungi are an integral part of the Earth’s ecosystems, they just differ from other living organisms. Moreover, scientists believe that mushrooms can save the world. But how?

Did you know that mushrooms absorb food with their entire surface, like plants? However, like us, they receive energy by consuming other forms of life, and not by photosynthesis.

Mycelium - This is the vegetative body of the fungus, which consists of thin interwoven threads - mycelium.

Third kingdom of nature

Before you understand why some researchersthey call mushrooms "saviors of the planet", let's recall a little biology lessons. Mushrooms, like plants and animals, have three forms of reproduction: vegetative (for example, pieces of mycelium), asexual and sexual. This is important, because it is by the methods of sexual reproduction that scientists divide mushrooms into classes. But sexual reproduction of mushrooms is a very complex issue that cannot be fully considered in a short article, so we will outline the most basic facts for you.

  • Researchers identify three classes of mushrooms:
  • Imperfect mushrooms
  • Marsupials
  • Basidiomycetes

By the way, mushrooms are quite “heavy” food.

This may seem surprising, but for somethere is no sexual reproduction at all, or it is so complex and hidden from view that researchers have not yet discovered it. Such mushrooms are usually classified "Imperfect mushrooms." This includes the famous penicillas, of which, by the way, not only antibiotics are made, but also such cheeses as Camembert and Roquefort. Mushrooms of the genus also belong to imperfect aspergillus which primarily affects book bindings andpictures. However, there is no limit to human ingenuity, and in Japan, rice vodka - sake - is prepared using aspergillus. The same applies to soy sauce.

Another representative of the class of imperfectfungi are soil fungi. Some of them are carnivorous and prey on nematode worms, and even among such fungi there are dangerous parasites of plants and animals, for example, the cordyceps mushroom is one-sided, which was described in detail by my colleague Ramis Ganiev or rice helminthosporium, which caused massive hunger in India in1943, destroying rice crops. In general, the class of imperfect mushrooms can have a devastating, catastrophic effect on human life.

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Second class are marsupials, which includes a third of the entire mushroom kingdom. Marsupials include morels, stitches, truffles, most yeast and many parasites, much without them. As a result of the sexual process, representatives of this class form a “sac” with eight spores inside - a bag, that's where the name comes from. When the bag bursts, the spores fly apart in different directions, like balls, sometimes half a meter. It is noteworthy that each mushroom has thousands and even millions of bags.

Brown boletus, as well as boletus, russula, mushrooms and many others belong to the class of basiodiomycetes.

The third, last class of mushrooms isbasidiomycetes, which include all the beloved porcini mushrooms, brown boletus, boletus, mushrooms, Russula and others. As a result of sexual reproduction, such mushrooms form not bags, but basidia with spores. Basidia can be compared with a pouted glove with two to four fingers. At the tips of the "fingers" are attached spores that come off the glove after maturation. But if some parasitic fungi are really dangerous, then why do researchers believe that using the mushrooms can save the planet?

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How do mushrooms save the earth?

The Discover article writes about Paul Stemets -an American mycologist and entrepreneur who sells various mushroom products and promotes the use of medicinal mushrooms in medicine. In his 2005 book entitled Running Mycelium: How Mushrooms Can Help Us Save the World, Stemets writes: Mushrooms that produce mushrooms can significantly change the game play in disparate areas such as medicine, forestry, pesticides, and pollution. Wednesday. " He spent the past 25 years preaching this to anyone who is willing to listen.

No matter how poetic or weird it looksStemets’s activity, his idea that fungi connect the human immune system and the environment, is based on solid biology, because on the evolutionary tree the animal kingdom and the mushroom kingdom sprout from one branch. Anyway, mushrooms surprisingly bind together the life of plants, animals and the Earth itself. There are about 1.5 million species of mushrooms,including yeast and mold, as well as fungus-producing macro-fungi. All these organisms - which we talked about above - have common features with animals: they inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide, and they are also susceptible to many microbes that people are susceptible to.

Paul Stemets visiting Joe Rogan. Stems' private campaign Fungi Perfecti sells gourmet and medicinal mushrooms (along with growing kits, mushroom supplements, and mushroom-related books and trinkets) by mail and in health food stores.

When mushrooms colonized the Earth a billion yearsago, some of them occupied the niche of the great decomposers of the earth - and this is the real key to creating the soil. Fungal mycelia secrete enzymes and acids that turn rock into bioavailable minerals and untangle long-chain molecules of organic matter into an easily digestible form. Fungal mycelia hold the soil together, help it hold water and make its nutrients available to vegetation. Recall that mycelium this is the vegetative body of mushrooms, which consists of thin branched threads called hyphae.

And how else do you think mushrooms can be used? We will wait for the answer here!

When the steamets cultivated mold in theirlaboratories, the white circle of mycelium spread over the Petri dish; he was soon covered in green spores. The researcher transferred pieces of mold to other dishes, where they multiplied for several generations. In the end, white streaks appeared among the greens in one plate, where the mycelium (possibly due to a damaged gene) lagged in the production of spores. Then he took part of the white material and cultivated it for many generations, as a result of which the spore formation cycle was delayed for several days or longer.

Mushrooms are not only a delicious dish

This, as Stems tells himself, will allowget rid of such insects as ants and other pests: by infecting with this type of mold, for example, rice grains. Due to delayed spore formation, the insect that tasted the grains will die after a few. After all the insects die, probably the smell of their moldy bodies will warn others from danger. Further tests showed that other mold strains of M. anisopliae and Beauvaria bassiana can also be modified to attract and subsequently kill a wide range of insects. Likewise, many types of mold and other results of fungal activity can be good for health and used as fertilizers for the soil, which is threatened with destruction. More details in this article.