Monday, December 31, 2007

Benefit Fungi to Human

Decomposition becomes an ecologically important process in nature. It can be a nuisance in everyday life. People have capitalized on fungal strengths, using them to ferment raw materials and produce food, averages, drugs, vitamins, and other useful chemicals. Other of interest are edible mushrooms which can be cultivated under tropical conditions. These include rice straw mushrooms (Volvariella volvacea) and oyster mushrooms (Pleurotus sajor-caju).

Various fungi are used in the production of traditional fermented foods and beverages such as kecap tempe, oncom, tape, dadih, brem and brem bali. Kecap fermentation uses a mixture of Aspergillus oryzae (Deuteromycetes) or Rhizopus ligosporus (Zygommycetes) and yeast (Ascomycetes). The fermentation of soybeans to produce tempe uses species of Rhizopus, while fermentation of peanut cake to produce oncom is carried out with species of Neurospora.

Many fungi are sensitive to environmental changes. Major modifications of the environment, such as forest clearing, can result in the extinction of fungi. Little attention has been given to fungi in discussion on conservation and there are only a few specialists in Indonesia.

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Mycorrhizal Fungi

Many fungi mycorrhizal associations with the roots of plants. The fungi feed by secreting digestive enzymes from the network of slender filaments which takes the place of roots, and absorbs the soluble products of digestion. The mycorrhizal fungus enhances nutrient uptake by the roots from decomposing leaf litter, while deriving its nutrients from the photosynthesis of the host plant. The symbiotic relationship is essential for the establishment and growth of seedlings, especially in nutrient-poor soils. Mycorrhizal infection of roots can be confined to the root surface (ectomycorrhiza) or located within the root cortical cells (endomycorrhiza) as illustrated at right. Mycorrhizal fungi have direct applications in agriculture and forestry.

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