Mycelium is a single-celled organism that can travel several inches a day.
It possesses only one cell wall that protects it from infection, yet it thrives more prolifically than any living entity within this realm.
It is this proliferation that is directly responsible for decomposing of plant debris, while at the same time providing essential nutrients to the plant and animal Eco system.
It could be said that mycelium is the earth’s life support system and should be better understood, more respected and protected as befits it’s vital importance.
Better informed Scientists have described Mycelium as:
“The neurological network of nature” that can “expand to thousands of acres in size in cellular mats achieving the greatest mass of any individual organism on this planet”.
The fruit of Mycelium is the good old Mushroom.
They in turn can produce spores capable of traveling great distances on the wind, on clothing, in animal faeces and even on envelopes and packages in our mail.
There are four main types of fungi: saprophytes, parasites, mycorrhizal and endophytes.
The saprophyte subtype is largely responsible for recycling organic debris and providing nutrients to the plant and animal world.
Mycorrhizal fungi are vital to the health of forests because it transports nutrients to different species of trees.
Various mushroom varieties possess potent anti-microbial properties.
It should also be remembered that a, “mouldy cantaloupe melon sent to an army research lab in 1941”, …led to the identification and extraction of strains of penicillium chrysogenum that led to the commercial synthesis of penicillin.
Further research led to the discovery that the extract of mycelium from the mushroom Fomitopsis officinalis, “protects human blood cells from infection by orthopox viruses including the family of viruses that includes smallpox.”
Specific varieties of mushrooms possess antiviral activity against such Virii as:
- Hepatitis B
- Herpes Simplex
- Tobacco Mosaic Virus
Several varieties of mushrooms are sources of other medicinal compounds including triterpenoids and glycoproteins.
Mushrooms have also shown to have therapeutic effects against specific cancers.
There is strong evidence that fungi from old growth forests have massive potential as the source of new and vital medicines.
But even mushrooms may now be an endangered species.
Studies now seem to indicate that mushroom colonies are shrinking around the world.
Deforestation and the increase in mechanised agriculture have contributed along with pollution and pesticides to this loss.
It can not be emphasised strongly enough that the preservation of this priceless resource is of vital importance to the future of this planet………