Mushrooms on Forest Floor

Fungi are important for breaking down leaf litter and wood debris in forests, and some form symbiotic relationships with trees and shrubs, which helps nourish both the trees and the fungi.  Mushrooms and other visible fungi are the fruiting bodies, or reproductive structures, of fungi that live in the ground.  They release spores into the air which will germinate and form a new fungal colony if they land in an appropriate place in sufficient numbers.  Slugs are known to feed on mushrooms and other fungi, so they ingest many kinds of fungal spores.  Is this a problem for the fungi?

A group of scientists in Japan studied a slug named Meghimatium fruhstorferi, which feeds on forest floor fungi.  They found the slugs are efficient dispersers of many kinds of fungal spores by passing them through their digestive tracts and depositing them in appropriate places to germinate and grow into new fungal colonies. 

The researchers also found the spores that had been transported and deposited by slugs had a higher germination capacity than spores transported by wind. 

Reference: Ecology and Evolution 17 February 2022, doi: 10.1002/ece3.8565

Editorial Comment:  If you have ever wondered if slugs, snails and other small invertebrates had any useful function, here is a good example.  As I like mushrooms I have more respect for slugs now, but it won’t stop me getting annoyed with them when they eat my flower seedlings.

Here we have another example of a three-way cooperative relationship between living things – trees, fungi and slugs.  This is a good reminder that the living world works by various forms of cooperation, including mutualism, commensalism and symbiosis. It is these beneficial cooperative processes that keep the living world going, and our research shows cooperation is the norm, not the exception. 

These mutually beneficial relationships serve as a reminder that God created functioning ecosystems, which have to be made with all contributing organisms fully formed and functional from the beginning.  Millions of years of Darwin’s “war of nature” can never build a good world like that.  Six days of creation did produce a fully functioning “very good” world, put together by the brilliant Creator who designed living things to support one another.

Creation Research News 30 March 2022

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