Use of Fungi as Food:
Fungi are also being used as food. The examples are:
Cultivation of mushrooms started in early 600 A.D. in China. In Europe, firstly
mushroom were cultivated in France in 1650’s. From France it spread to whole
Europe. Now, mushroom industry has become the largest industry both in Europe
Mushrooms are cultivated on inexpensive substrate like waste material of
manure, tobacco, stems, rice, and wheat straw, also saw dust is being used
for the same purpose. Use of Fungi as Food:
In United States, Meadow mushrooms are mostly cultivated. Meadow
mushrooms (Agaricus brunnescens), the sporophores of Agaricus
brunnescens are used in pizza.
Other mushrooms like; Shiitake, oyster and straw mushrooms are also
being used for the same purpose and are commercially grown.
Mushroom has higher amino acid content then all fungi, except spinach and
soya beans. Use of Fungi as Food:
Mushrooms also have medicinal value and are being used to cure tumor
2) Morels and Truffles:
Two naturally grown fungi are Morals and Truffles, thy are highly renowned for
their taste and other nutritional values.
Truffles are associated with the roots of many trees, especially oak tree.
Truffles are hunted by pigs and dogs. Truffles are highly expensive because these
are found in Europe. European people sell them at very high cost i.e. one pound
for hundreds of Dollars.
Morels are also known as sponge mushrooms. Morels appear only for a
few weeks in spring in certain geographical regions of the world, therefore people
plan to hunt them. This is really a great leisure activity in many parts of the world,
especially in U.S.A.
3) Poisonous Mushrooms:
Many mushrooms are highly poisonous. Most renowned poisonous mushroom is
The symptoms that may appear due to poisonous mushroom may be:
Severe liver and Kidney damage.
Some years ago, American Ambassador to Italy is said to have become ill because
one ravacious fungus attacked the green pigment in the wallpaper of her bedroom,
producing arsine a poisonous gas, inhaled by her.
4) Maize Mushrooms:
A smut fungus i.e. Ustilago maydis that attacks on the ears of corn, produces
galls, these galls are called Maize Mushrooms; These maize mushrooms have
different food additives which are used in Mexican dishes and are very popular in
Mexico. These mushrooms are also being used by Gourmet cooks in U.S.A.
5) Various purposes:
Many other fungi are being used for many purposes.
The examples are:
Penicillium is used to give flavor to cheese.
Many fungi are use in the production of various types pf sauces e.g. soya sauce
from wheat and soya beans.
Rhizopus, Mucor and Actinomucor are used in increasing the digestibility of
Many fungi are involved in fermentation.
Fusarium graminearum is used as high quality Mycoprotein instead of meat in
U.S.A. and U.K. These mycoprotein are highly nutritious, but these have two
(i) They have high level of nucleic acid that can cause health problems.
(ii) They are low in number of amino acids.
ALSO SEE; introduction to fungi lichen
Use of Fungi in Brewing and Bakery:
Yeasts like Saccharomyces cerevisiae convert glucose sugar to ethyl alcohol and CO2
(fermentation process), thus fungi in this way are important in brewing and bakery industry
During fermentation, small bubbles of CO2 raise the bread.
In brewing, alcohol is the important product. Virtually any plant that contains
either sugar or starch can be used to produce alcohol.
3) Wine making and Noble rot:
Fungi like Botrytis cinerea plays role in making dessert wine by grapes.
Therefore, European farmers inoculate the grape vines with Botrytis cinerea that
rot the vines and make them sweater. For this reason, Botrytis cinerea is also
known as “Noble rot”.
Different types of Alcohol are formed from different plant sources:
VODKA from wheat, rye, potato and corns.
BEER from barley, rye, corn
MEAD from honey
Bourbon from corn.
5) Why fungi are pivotal in Brewing industry?
As the grains of wheat, barley, rice etc. have starches which cannot directly be
converted into alcohol. Therefore, they first must be converted into simple
glucose molecules, and then to alcohol. Fungi in this regard help, for example
Mucor, Rhizopus and Yeasts saccharify the starches to glucose, which then after
fermentation are converts to alcohol. Hence, it is proven fungi are pivotal in
Some other uses of Fungi:
In addition to ethyl alcohol fungi also produce:
Variety of chemical compounds e.g. ergosterol, cortisone.
Various enzymes e.g. a-amylase, renin, cellulase, catalase, lactase and lipase.
Acids such as fumaric acid, lactic acid, citric acid and succinic acid.
Plant Growth Regulators such as gibberellins.
B-vitamins can also be obtained from yeasts.
Importance of Fungi in terms of Plant Diseases:
Fungi are off course very important in terms of plant diseases and are causing billion
dollars loss in the world. Examples of these diseases may be:
1. Downy mildew
2. Powdery mildew.
3. Late Blight of Potato and Tomato.
4. Early Blight of Potato and Tomato.
5. Corn smut.
6. Rust diseases.
7. Foolish seedlings disease of rice.
8. Ergot of Rye
9. Club rot of crucifers.
10. Golf diseases i.e. grass disease caused by Pythium and Phytophthora spp.
Use of Fungi as/in Weedicides:
Fungi are also important to control weeds as weedicides.
1) Colletotrichum gloeosporioides is used as Mycoherbicide.
2) Fungi producing Phytoalexins are also being used against many weeds as biological
FOR MORE INFO ‘:Introduction to organic matter: