Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The fungus among us

Shades of the fungal jungle.

Readers who follow the link will see why I write this blog; and what is so interesting about the microbial life around us and its impact on our biosphere. It turns out, you see, that fungi in symbiosis with plant toots have a major impact on how much carbon the plants store in the soil.

No one suspected fungi could play such a major role in climatology; and who would have thought that microscopic fungi would have anything to do with global warming? The suggestion seems, on the face of things, absurd; and yet it turns out to be true. There are so many things we don't understand about the microbial underpinnings of our global ecosystems that we are just beginning to think about scratching the surface of the surface.

Mushrooms and fungi appear to us to be inconsequential unless someone serves them to us at dinner; this is why little or no time is devoted to studying to them, outside a relatively small circle of scientists. Now it turns out that we ought to be studying them more; and beyond that, finding ways to make sure we don't damage their ability to live and reproduce.

The future quality of the air we breathe and the temperature of the earth's surface may depend on it.