December 3, 2014

Fungi discovered agriculture

More than 400 million years ago, fungi discovered agriculture : they began cultivating algeae and cyanobacteriae to meet their needs in carbohydrates and nitrogen. The association is so close that for some time biologists could’nt agree whether lichens pertained to the vegetal  or the fungal kingdom [i]

Millions of years later, insects undertook to cultivate mushrooms. So, species of ants maintain huge plantations, relatively speaking, by transporting fragments of nourishing leaves to their nests. Some termites have been doing the same with their wood residue. 

Recently, thousand years ago, humans  began cultivating plants and mushrooms. Shiitake (Lentinula edodes) was cultivated in South East Asia long before our  Era. The industrial production of button mushroom started during the early  XVIIIth century. It remains today by far the largest such staple worlwide. 

And now, you can grow your own mushroom in the comfort of your home or  in your backyard. With growing kits for a wide range of interesting species, cultivation is for everyone’s enjoyment. Thanks to lichens who were instrumental in the expansion of terrestrial plants and .. Mankind.

 

[i] Read in this respect the Oct., 2014 issue of FUNGI Magazine which is entirely dedicated to lichens. 

Return to Blog