Terminology: Genus e.g. Amanita; Species: e.g. virosa (see earlier post) I will be referring mainly to genera (plural of genus) but sometimes species.
Fungi are found from the Arctic to the Antarctic. They are found in soil, fresh water, and in the ocean. They need just two things to grow: a minute source of food and water. Depending upon the species, they are able to obtain food from:
- All parts of plants including: flowers, pollen, leaves, wood, and roots
- Insects: some live only on very specific parts of the insect body
- Other fungi, including an edible called the lobster mushroom that is a mushroom parasitized by another fungus
- Soot in chimneys
- I have found Penicillium growing in distilled deionized water and on a fly in amber
- One species of Ulocladium (other species are found in homes, in the garden and on dead plants) is only found in the Dead Sea.
A fungus called Colletotrichum gloeosporioides has been developed as biological control of a weed that grows in rice paddies. It was developed by Drs. Templeton and TeBeest at the University of Arkansas.
I will try to keep this posting updated with new research but let start with some of the basics.
Whether you call them molds (moulds to mycologists and in England), mildews, mushrooms, toadstools, or yeasts, you are talking about the same thing: fungi. The study of fungi is called mycology. Mycologists also study slime molds and molds on fish, but these are not truly fungi.
Mycologically speaking, mushrooms and toadstools are all in the same group of fungi. After all, what is bad for someone eating an Amanita virosa (destroying angel) is good for the oak tree with which it has a mycorrhizal relationship: without the fungus the tree would not grow well.
Although people who study fungi frequently are often botanists, the biochemistry of fungi is much closer to that of animals. It’s the reason onychyomycosis (toe nail fungi) is so difficult to treat.
The latest count estimates that there are 1.5 million species.