Fungi

Mushrooms

WHAT IS A MUSHROOM?

A mushroom is the fleshy, spore-bearing fruiting body of a fungus, typically produced above ground on soil or on its food source. A mushroom is classified under the fungus kingdom because of reproduction, photosynthesis, body structure, and life cycle requirements.

This or THAT?

A mushroom is considered a heterotroph because it cant make its own food with energy from the sun like an autotroph can. Mushrooms feed off of living or dead plants. They also recieve their energy from disposing of decaying objects. A mushroom is eukaryotic  because they have a nucleus. This is also because a mushroom is multicellular.

Toxic: Stay away!

Mushroom poisoning is also known as mycetism. It refers to harmful effects from indigestion of toxic substances present in a mushroom. These symptoms can vary from slight gastrointestinal discomfort to death. So be sure to stay away from certain mushrooms! Some are toxic!

"Nice to meet you" mushrooms

I call non-toxic mushrooms "nice to meet you" mushrooms because they are friendly and they cant hurt you. If you want to know whether a mushroom is toxic or not, keep reading. One thing you could do is study the features and colors of poisonous mushrooms. The mushroom in the picture may be or may not be poisonous. I am not sure.

Different types of mushrooms: Sapotrophic

Currently there are over 10,000 known types of mushrooms. Sapotrophic, mycorrhizal, parasitic, and endophytic are all categories that describe how the organism feeds itself. Sapotrophic mushrooms are decomposers. They release acids and enzymes (large biological molecules responsible for the thousands of chemical interconversions that sustain life) that break down dead tissue into smaller molecules they can absorb. They can decay wood, plants, and even animals can become food for these types of mushrooms. Some mushrooms in this category are: Morels - which are very popular with mushroom hunters. And the Reishi - Is highly prized in Chinese medicine, the Reishi mushroom is now the subject of many medical studies. The picture is of a Morels. This can be why mushrooms are helpful.

Mycorrhizae

Mycorrhizal mushrooms have a fascinating relationship with trees and other plants. The mycelia of these fungi enter into a union with the roots of plants by either weaving into the root cells or wrapping around the roots themselves. This is beneficial because the mycelia being in additional moisture, phosphorous, and other nutrients to their hosts. In return they gain access to sugars(such as glucose) that the hosts produce. This allows plants to grow bigger, faster, and stronger. Some mushrooms in this category are: Porcini - often used in soups and sauces, this mushroom can grow wuite large. Chanterelles - A prized edible found on many continents. And the Matsutake - Highly sought after their flavor and aroma in cooking. The picture is of a Chanterelles. This can be why mushrooms are helpful.

Parasites

Parasitic types of mushrooms also take plant hosts. Although in this case the relationship is one-sided. These fungi will infect the host and eventually kill it. Most true parasitic fungi do not produce mushrooms and are too small to be noticed on a tree until it is too late. Some mushrooms in this category are: Honey Fungus - Some species in the Armillaria genus are edible, some are bioluminescent, and one colony is suspected to be the largest organism on the planet! The Caterpillar Fungus - A true parasite that preys on insects. And Lions Mane - This strange speciman possesses spiny teeth instead of the traditional cap. In addition to being edible, it is also suspected to help heal nerve tissue! The picture is of Honey Fungus. This can be why mushrooms are helpful.

Endophytes

Endophytes partner with plants by invading the host tissue. However, unlike with parasitic fungi, the host remains healthy and seem to benefit with increased nutrient absorption and resistance to pathogens. Most endophytes can be easily cultivated in a lab without their host present.

Why are the mushrooms important?

Mushrooms are important to me because I like the outdoors and nature, and mushrooms are DEFINATELY considered a part of nature. Mushrooms are important to my community because if someone in my community was a doctor, certain mushrooms like the Reishi mushroom can help with their job of being a doctor. The Reishi, for instance, is highly prized in Chinese medicine, and is now the subject of many medical studies. If you were a chef and worked at a resturaunt, certain mushrooms like the Porcini, Chanterelles, and the Matsutake can be useful when cooking because the Porcini is used in soups and sauces, Chanterelles is a prized edible found on many continents, and teh Matsutake is used for flavor and aroma in cooking. These mushrooms can help a chef/cook because you can put these mushrooms in the food, if they are safe and edible, to make more money. Mushrooms are important to science because scientists could study the mushroom and find more different mushroom species. They can also tell other scientists and people about their notes and discoveries on mushrooms, so more people can find out about different kinds of mushrooms and different needs of mushrooms.

From toxic to non-toxic

There is no way to actually cure a mushroom from a toxic mushroom into a "nice to meet you" mushroom. But there is a way to prevent getting sick from a mushroom that is toxic. We need to teach everyone, even adults, about the seriousness of toxic mushrooms because if a kid comes along a toxic mushroom, they might not know that it is a toxic mushroom...death can even occur from a toxic mushroom.