How do you feel about… the fungus among us?
This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.
Heavy rains come, then ew, what are these? In the grass, in your flower beds, are those. . . mushrooms?!?
Enter Shengen Liu and team from the Institute of Natural Resources and Agrobiology in Spain. They asked if soil fungi actually help animal and plant life. Researchers gathered more than TWO HUNDRED soil samples from three global surveys over FIFTEEN years! The samples were taken from a range of ecosystems, from tropical forests to dry grasslands. Then, they identified which types of fungus were collected.
In each survey, the number of fungal species POSITIVELY correlated with ecosystem stability. In other words, these decomposers PROTECTED plant life over the years. They allowed flora to flourish throughout the world – even during droughts.
This research demonstrates that fungi preserve our ecosystems. So next time you see a mushroom growing, remember…
Fungus are friends, not foes! Don’t kick em!
Reference: Liu, S., García-Palacios, P., Tedersoo, L. et al. Phylotype diversity within soil fungal functional groups drives ecosystem stability. Nat Ecol Evol (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41559-022-01756-5