EcoPreservation : Mesmeric’ Mushrooms

Mushrooms (15)

If there weren’t any mushrooms, our world would be one medium garbage dump. Mushrooms play an important role in the world by breaking down plant and animal material.

Mushrooms are fungi. Fungi are as uniquely different from plants as plants are from animals. In fact, fungi and animals are now in the same super-kingdom, Opisthokonta.

After degradation, the remains are reused by other plants and animals. Mushrooms are unable to produce their own energy to grow so they always live in relationship with other organisms.

In exchange for energy from plants, many mushroom species provide various nutrients that the plants themselves are unable to produce sufficiently.

Mushrooms can have three kinds of relationships with plants: those that clean up (saprophytes), those that kill (parasites) and those that work together (mycorrhizasymbionts).

Studies (2011) showed that mushrooms also use meat in the form of eelworms and other such creatures, to meet their nitrogen requirements!

Fungi recycle plants after they die and transform them into rich soil. If not for mushrooms and fungi, the Earth would be buried in several feet of debris and life on the planet would soon disappear.

The oldest mushroom found in amber is from 90 million years ago—a Cordyceps. Scientists recently discovered a fossil first uncovered in 1859 and named Prototaxites, dating back more than 420 million years, a time when the tallest plants were around 2 feet tall. Prototaxites was 3 feet tall laying down, but if standing was nearly 30 feet high. In either case it would be the tallest organism on landand it was a giant fungus!

You can make beautiful colors by boiling wild mushrooms and dipping cloth in the resulting broth.

Many mushrooms grow towards light, following the sun just like plant. Unlike with plants, scientists do not yet know how mushrooms use sunlight; only that they do.

The spores of mushrooms are made of chitin, the hardest naturally-made substance on Earth. Some scientists suspect that mushroom spores are capable of space travel; a few even believe that some fungi found on Earth originally came from outer space! (Others believe that people who think this must be from outer space themselves.)

Under the right conditions, some mushrooms’ spores can sit dormant for decades or even a century, and still grow!

Mushrooms are useful not only as food and medicine; some are also being used in bioremediation, to absorb and digest dangerous substances like oil, pesticides and industrial waste, in places where they threaten the environment.

 Images Credit : Unknown / collected from the internet. Credits goes to whosoever concerned.

Eco Preservation : Bioremediation

Manila, Philippines

Manila, Philippines

What is Bioremediation?

Remediate” means to solve a problem, and “bio-remediate” means to use biological organisms to solve an environmental problem such as contaminated soil or groundwater. Microorganisms used to perform the function of bioremediation are known as bioremediators.

In a non-polluted environment, bacteria, fungi, protists, and other microorganisms are constantly at work breaking down organic matter. What would occur if an organic pollutant such as oil contaminated this environment? Some of the microorganisms would die, while others capable of eating the organic pollution would survive. Bioremediation works by providing these pollution-eating organisms with fertilizer, oxygen, and other conditions that encourage their rapid growth. These organisms would then be able to break down the organic pollutant at a correspondingly faster rate. In fact, bioremediation is often used to help clean up oil spills.

bioremediation2

Bioremediation of a contaminated site typically works in one of two ways. In the case described above, ways are found to enhance the growth of whatever pollution-eating microbes might already be living at the contaminated site. In the second, less common case, specialized microbes are added to degrade the contaminants.

Bioremediation provides a good cleanup strategy for some types of pollution, but as you might expect, it will not work for all. For example, bioremediation may not provide a feasible strategy at sites with high concentrations of chemicals that are toxic to most microorganisms. These chemicals include metals such as cadmium or lead, and salts such as sodium chloride.

Nonetheless, bioremediation provides a technique for cleaning up pollution by enhancing the same biodegradation processes that occur in nature. Depending on the site and its contaminants, bioremediation may be safer and less expensive than alternative solutions such as incineration or landfilling of the contaminated materials. It also has the advantage of treating the contamination in place so that large quantities of soil, sediment or water do not have to be dug up or pumped out of the ground for treatment.

Limitations : 

Not all contaminants, however, are easily treated by bioremediation using microorganisms. For example, heavy metals such as cadmium and lead are not readily absorbed or captured by microorganisms. A recent experiment however suggests that fish bones have some success absorbing lead from contaminated soil. Bone char has been shown to bioremediate small amounts of Cadmium Copper and Zinc.  The assimilation of metals such as mercury into the food chain may worsen matters. Phytoremediation is useful in these circumstances because natural plants or transgenic plants are able to bioaccumulate these toxins in their above-ground parts, which are then harvested for removal. The heavy metals in the harvested biomass may be further concentrated by incineration or even recycled for industrial use.

The elimination of a wide range of pollutants and wastes from the environment requires increasing our understanding of the relative importance of different pathways and regulatory networks to carbon flux in particular environments and for particular compounds, and they will certainly accelerate the development of bioremediation technologies and biotransformation processes.

It helps Philippines 

Another Video to explain Bioremediation