introduction to fungi lichen
Three and a half millennia ago, the Greek hero Perseus in fulfilment of oracle, accidentally killed
his grandfather. Acrisius was the person to whom he (i.e. Perseus) wanted to make the king (i.e.
give throne of Kingdom Argos). When he returned back after fulfilment of the oracle, he was
upset for killing his grandfather. Therefore, he contacted with Megapenthes the father of Proetus introduction to fungi lichen
to change his kingdom with Argos. He accepted his request and give the kingdom of Proetus to
the Perseus. When Perseus reached and he found that the cap of his scabbard fallen, he perceived
it as a good omen to build a new city. The new city was named as Mycenae. Secondly, he also introduction to fungi lichen
drank the water flowing from mushroom (mykes) and fulfilled his thirst. After doing these two
things i.e. topping off of the cap (mykes) of his scabbard and drinking water from the introduction to fungi lichen
mushroom (mykes), he called the new founded city as Mycenae.
This is possible that from Mycenae city name, the word Mycenanean has been taken. If
Greek words are considered, then Mycology (MykesMushroom, and LogosDiscourse).
Thus, the study of mushroom is called as Mycology.
Mycology is not the correct word, it must be Mycetology (due to its origin from the city
named Mycenae), but because by default it has been renowned, therefore is being used.
Role of Leeuwenhoek:
Firstly, the mushrooms were studied with open eye (due to their macro structure),
afterward lenses were used for their study, but after the discovery of microscope
by the great scientist Leeuwenhoek, its biology and system studies began.
Role of Pier Antonio:
Pier Antonio the found of Mycology, contributed significantly in the field of
Mycology. This scientist in 1729 published Nova Plantarum Genera, in which
his researches on Fungi are present.
Definition of Fungi:
Traditionally, biologists have defined Fungi as:
“Eukaryotic, spore-producing, achlorophyllous organisms with absorptive
nutrition, that generally reproduce both sexually and sexually, whose structure is usually
filamentous and branched (technically called as Hyphae), typically surrounded by the cell
This is a good definition but has some limitations.
For example, many fungi are not closely inter-related. Due to this reason, now
two terms are used. These two terms are:
1) Fungi-like (slime molds)
Fungi which have first letter small i.e. “ f ” are not the fungi, but they have some
characters of Kingdom Fungi, while “ Fungi” having capital letter “ F ” are considered to be the
True-Fungi. These include:
Diversity in Number:
Presently in the world there are 1.5 million species, while in the record is only 69,000
species of Fungi. This huge gap between recorded and total i.e. 1.5 million show that there is
much need of fungi sampling and research. Further, it has been also observed that research on
Fungi sampling in Tropical and Sub-tropical region is less, hence by increasing research on fungi
in these areas will be helpful to further record fungi species.
Importance of Fungi:
Systematic study of Fungi is 250 years old. But, the manifestation (sign of
occurrence) of fungi is million years old.
Ancient people were well aware of the role of fungi in fermentation process. We
know that fermentation is done by single celled fungi i.e. Yeast. But:
the old people of Egypt considered this as a gift of great God.
Ancient Romans celebrated two festivals i.e. Dionysia and Bacchanalia to
please two gods (Dionysius and Bacchus) in which wine flowed freely.
As wine is manufactured through fermentation process, therefore old Greek
people know about the fungi.
2) Thunder and Lightning:
Still, in Mexico and Guatemala, people consider fungus (Amanita muscaria) the
cause of thunder and lightning.
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3) Grave Guardians and Medicine:
In the same countries and north-west coast of United States, spirit figures are
carved on the sporophores of fungus (Fomitopsis officinalis). These sporophores
are then put on the graves as guardians. Especially, Shaman graves are guarded
with form mentioned.
The same fungus is also being used for medicinal purpose in North America.
4) Tinder Box:
Similarly, in France a fungus was discovered from the melting glacier, the name
of fungus was Piptoporus betulinus. This fungus has been used in Tinder boxes
(the box that holds material to caught fire).
ALSO SEE; Clones in plant breeding and genetics:
In regard to fungal Folklore and general mystique (magic) of fungi, we should
mention the topic of BIOLUMINESCENCE in these organisms.
In some fungi, the reproductive structure gives off visible light, causing
them to glow in night.
Sometime the fungi permeated the wood logs also produce light. This
PHOSPHORESCENT light has been used in frightening people in old
Even in the age of Aristotle, people used bioluminescent wood pieces to
mark their path.
Soldiers used these pieces on their helmet in order to be visible to one
another at night.
In United States bioluminescent fungi are called Foxfire. The example of
bioluminescent fungus is Jack-o-Lantern mushroom whose orange gills
glow in night.
6) Giant Fungus:
In United States in 1992 a fungus Armillaria bulbosa was discovered having 10
tons weight. This fungus was reported to be 1500 years old.
The most important aspect of fungi in the ecosystem is as decaying agent. Fungi
decompose cellulose and lignin to the primary component of the wood. In fact,
biomass production in the forests is largely due to fungi. If there would no
biomass production, it means there will be loss of forests. Though fungus is
playing important role in the decay process but:
they are also notoriously damaging the wood poles, lumber, railway ties
and other wood products.
Even, fungi are great threat to the wood warships and other items present
in the ship
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