What you should know about fabulous fungi

Posted 3/15/20

Many of you probably saw the documentary film "Fantastic Fungi" that played at Taos Community Auditorium last month and were knocked out by the astonishing photography of the multitudes of forms these organisms take.

You have exceeded your story limit for this 30-day period.

Please log in to continue

Log in

What you should know about fabulous fungi

Posted

Many of you probably saw the documentary film "Fantastic Fungi" that played at Taos Community Auditorium last month and were knocked out by the astonishing photography of the multitudes of forms these organisms take.

If you're curious about this life form and want to learn more, the Taos Chapter of the Native Plant Society of New Mexico invites you to join us for a two-part series on fungi presented by Joseph Morton. The first presentation, "The Wonderful Wacky World of Fungi," will be held on Wednesday (March 18) at 6 p.m. in the boardroom of the Kit Carson Electric Cooperative, 118 Cruz Alta Road. Our meetings are free and open to the public so join us.

During this talk, Morton will introduce us to the kingdom of fungi. Fungi are organisms that biologists once confused with plants; however, unlike plants, fungi cannot make their own food. Morton describes fungi as "the global recyclers of organic matter. They provide food … and are a major source of antibiotics for combating bacterial diseases. They are able to form associations with most living creatures, and these relationships can be either negative (as pathogens) or positive (as symbionts)."

Come and learn how their relationship with humans varies dramatically from mass starvation at worst (example, the potato blight in Ireland) to possible contributions to the evolution of cognition and brain function in humans.

On April 15, Morton will return and focus on "The Mycorrhizal Symbiosis: Essential to All Life on Earth." We all know that the world cannot exist without plants. As he explained to me, "plants depend on their root systems to grow and thrive. But interactions with soil and a few essential nutrients … limit this potential. The earliest plants lacked roots as we know them and would never have established on land without the aid of fungi."

A fungus that grows in association with the roots of a plant in a symbiotic (beneficial) or slightly pathogenic (harmful) way is called a mycorrhiza. "Mycorrhizal symbiosis is an essential component for restoration and stabilization of plant communities, especially in arid and semi-arid environments such as ours in New Mexico," Morton notes.

Morton is a professor emeritus from the University of West Virginia where, as a plant pathologist and environmental microbiologist, he received several awards for outstanding research and teaching. He studied the mycorrhizal symbiotic relationship between soil fungi and plant root systems and developed the world's largest collection of mycorrhizal fungi - cultures of which are available for study to other researchers. Recently relocated to Santa Fe, he continues to educate the curious on the fascinating subject of fungi of all forms.

This column is generally printed every second Thursday of the month. For questions or suggestions, contact Jan Martenson, president of the Taos Chapter of the Native Plant Society of New Mexico, at TaosNPS@gmail.com or call (575) 751-0511. Get in on the fun and support the education and outreach efforts of the Native Plant Society of New Mexico by joining: npsnm.org/about/join. Be sure to select Taos as your Chapter Affiliation.

Comments

Private mode detected!

In order to read our site, please exit private/incognito mode or log in to continue.