Why might fungi be able to save the world? Why are fungi important?

Fungi can save the world by assisting in decomposition, improving soil, and providing a relatively inexpensive food source for people.

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Fungi are very important for maintaining life on Earth. First, Fungi are important for animal and plant decomposition. Without fungi to assist with this process, dead plants and animals would accumulate; this would make disease more common and deadly in the ecosystem. By breaking down plants and animals into their elemental components, fungi assist in making valuable nutrients available for plants. One can observe this quite readily in the forest, as old moldy leaves often provide a loose, microbe-rich soil. Logs that have fungi growing on them are also loose and valuable soil additions. Fungi is also important to providing nutrients to plant roots. The presence of some fungi is beneficial to ensuring loose topsoil; however, some types of fungi are harmful to crops.

Fungi also provide a food source to many animals. Stream invertebrates eat fungi; these same invertebrates are important links in the food chains which include fish. Banana slugs prefer fungi over garden crops. Fungi are important sources of food for people as well. Mushrooms are quite easy to grow from kits, and they are relatively inexpensive in the supermarket. They provide sources of trace minerals, such as copper and zinc. They are also good sources of fiber and protein. Easily dried and portable, mushrooms can serve as a valuable food source for a growing world population.

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