Mycorrhizae: What foresters _MUST_ learn about fungi

truffler1635 at my-deja.com truffler1635 at my-deja.com
Thu Apr 20 12:58:09 EST 2000


In article <v04020a05b52392419df1@[24.4.68.82]>,
  Moselio Schaechter <mschaech at sunstroke.sdsu.edu> wrote:
> --============_-1255958923==_ma============
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"
>
> In a recent message, we read:
> "The sheer biomass of these soil fungi - neither plant nor animal,
> but owning their own kingdom - can be staggering, he says (attributed to
> Mike Amaranthus). A hectare of ground in an old-growth Douglas-fir stand
> can contain 4,200 kilograms of fungal mycelium. That 9,240 pounds, dry
> weight, of itty-bitty threads in a blanket of soil the size of two football
> fields. (Poster's note:
> remember that mycelium, like mushrooms, are over 90% water by weight.)"
>
> I would like to check in with a back-of-the envelope calculation that I was
> foolhardy enough to publish in my book "In The Company of Mushrooms"
> (Harvard U. Press, 1997).  Here's what I wrote:
>
> "I could not find a calculation for the weight of all the fungi on earth,
> so I tried my hand at an estimate. I used a conservative figure for the
> amount of fungi per square meter of soil that supports vegetation, 100
> grams (less than a quarter of a pound), and multiplied it by the total area
> of such soils. I came up with the figure of 10 trillion kilograms of fungi
> on earth. This figure is certainly an underestimate because it does not
> include the lichens (part fungi and part algae) that colonize many trees
> and rocks, save those in extreme deserts and permanently subzero polar
> regions. Even this low count leads to the conclusion that at the very least
> there are about two tons of fungi for every one of us."
>
> My estimates were based on figures I could find for the fungal biomass and
> the size of the likely areas with fungal life, themselves quite raw
> estimates.   I am pleased, however, that the recent message states that the
> fungal biomass under Doug firs is 420 g/square meter.  This is 4.2 x higher
> than the figure I used, appropriate so because  I expect such soils to be
> richer than the average.
>
> Please believe me when I say that my figure is a guess.  However, I did
> check this out with several prominent mycologists and was told that they
> had not seen such a calculation in print before.   I hope someone with more
> knowledge than I in this area will wish to refine the figure.
>
> Elio Schaechter
>
> --============_-1255958923==_ma============
> Content-Type: text/enriched; charset="us-ascii"
>
> In a recent message, we read:
>
> "The sheer biomass of these soil fungi - neither plant nor animal,
>
> but owning their own kingdom - can be staggering, he says (attributed
> to Mike Amaranthus). A hectare of ground in an old-growth Douglas-fir
> stand can contain 4,200 kilograms of fungal mycelium. That 9,240
> pounds, dry weight, of itty-bitty threads in a blanket of soil the size
> of two football fields. (Poster's note:
>
> remember that mycelium, like mushrooms, are over 90% water by
> weight.)"
>
> I would like to check in with a back-of-the envelope calculation that I
> was foolhardy enough to publish in my book "In The Company of
> Mushrooms" (Harvard U. Press, 1997).  Here's what I wrote:
>
> "<fontfamily><param>Palatino</param><bigger>I could not find a
> calculation for the weight of all the fungi on earth, so I tried my
> hand at an estimate. I used a conservative figure for the amount of
> fungi per square meter of soil that supports vegetation, 100 grams
> (less than a quarter of a pound), and multiplied it by the total area
> of such soils. I came up with the figure of 10 trillion kilograms of
> fungi on earth. This figure is certainly an underestimate because it
> does not include the lichens (part fungi and part algae) that colonize
> many trees and rocks, save those in extreme deserts and permanently
> subzero polar regions. Even this low count leads to the conclusion that
> at the very least there are about two tons of fungi for every one of
> us.</bigger></fontfamily>"
>
> My estimates were based on figures I could find for the fungal biomass
> and the size of the likely areas with fungal life, themselves quite raw
> estimates.   I am pleased, however, that the recent message states that
> the fungal biomass under Doug firs is 420 g/square meter.  This is 4.2
> x higher than the figure I used, appropriate so because  I expect such
> soils to be richer than the average.
>
> Please believe me when I say that my figure is a guess.  However, I did
> check this out with several prominent mycologists and was told that
> they had not seen such a calculation in print before.   I hope someone
> with more knowledge than I in this area will wish to refine the figure.
>
> Elio Schaechter
>
Thanks for posting, Elio. I have your book (and hope to get it
autographed sometime), but feel insecure posting even partial quotes
from books, since the copyright infringements are so much more stringent
than those in newspaper articles.

However, there is additional information in Mushrooms of North America
by Orson K. Miller Jr.; The Mushroom Hunter's Field Guide by Alexander
H. Smith; The Biology and Cultivation of Edible Mushrooms by Chang and
Hayes; and Mushrooms by Hard. Attempts to identify mycorrhizae by growth
habit are on-going and on-line. My botany professor at Oregon State
University, Dr. Helen Gilkey (whose master's thesis was the Tuberales of
North America) noted that all members of Orchidaceace were either in
mycorrhizal symbiosis or were saprotrophic such as Corallorhiza sps. But
she later revised saprotrophic when she found the orchid apparently
living from Rhizopogon vinicolor, which is mycorrhizal with Douglas fir.

Daniel B. Wheeler
www.oregonwhitetruffles.com


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