Who doesn’t want to meet a fun guy?

A person with great sense of humor, lots of stories to tell, a personality to be followed enough to make a cult and who is also a person of science. That’s everyone’s dream, right?

Well, we are not going to talk about that fun guy but about few interesting fungi. Unlike their plant cousins fungi lacks chlorophyll despite being eukaryotic and multicellular. This lead them to a sad life unable to prepare food themselves and forcing to live on absorbed nutrients. The misery continues even further, they can’t procreate by making seeds rather have to depend on spores. Alas! The primal purpose of a life on this blue planet has to piggyback on fragmenting and budding. Cutting of a limb and that growing into your offspring, sounds nauseating, ain’t it?

Ahh.. don’t forget, we can eat few of these fungi, few let you to unleash power inside and few can send you to another dimensions, yeah! both literally and metaphorically. These fun guys are serving humanity in other great frontier by doing fermentation 😋😏 and production of antibiotics.

Different types of fungi
Different types of fungi (image source : mycorrhizas.info)

There is a saying, You can skip 1000s of tasks to eat and 500s of tasks to sleep. You may not have heard earlier, I made it. 😏😂 So, let’s start with eating these things.

Though there are hundreds of edible mushroom species worldwide, very few are cultivated in large scale.There are 3 popular edible mushrooms in Nepal, Button Mushroom (Agaricus bisporus), Oyster Mushroom (Pleurotus sajor-caju), Paddy Straw Mushroom (Volvariella volvacea). Beside these, a wild variety named Shitake mushroom has also gaining popularity.

(Anotherverse will publish an article on Edible mushrooms and their cultivation as next part of this article.)

Fungi pertaining to genus Psilocybe are famously used psychedelic mushrooms known as shrooms or magic mushrooms. They are not voodoo practitioner or high priests to do magic, it’s  psychoactive chemicals psilocybin and psilocin causing hallucination, euphoria and stuffs.😏 Though it’s illegal in most of the countries, history suggests it’s been used by past civilization like Central Americans, for those magical effects. Obviously who doesn’t want to hear colors and see sounds, laying on the beaches dreaming.

Magic mushroom (Image source: wikipedia.org)
Magic mushroom (Image source: wikipedia.org)
Yarsa gumba (Image source: aliexpress.com)
Yarsa gumba (Image source: aliexpress.com)

Besides making things magically high, Yarsa Gumba (Cordyceps sinensis) is notorious for making high in other dimension. Literally the name translating as ‘summer grass winter worm’, an insect larva infected by fungi, it’s considered as one of valuable bioproduct. Used in various herbal medicines and mostly as aphrodisiac, Yarsa is a prized harvest for Himalayan region of Nepal.

What do you do if you meet a fun guy who happens to be an angel. Pretty much excited, right? Haha! You are wrong here. Never ever try to get near of an angel from the kingdom of fungi. The angel is extra dangerous here, making you feel good for days and finally taking you with her for forever. Well, few might think it’s better to embrace the angel than be #foreveralone. In that case we are not much of your help.

Destroying angel (Image source :theequinest.com)
Destroying angel (Image source :theequinest.com)

Okay, I would like to introduce you to ‘Destroying/Death angel’, poisonous mushroom belonging to Amanita species. The poisonous substance Amatoxin found in Destroying angel attacks DNA inside cells. At first, the ingester has symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea and other intestinal problems after 6-12 hours. After a day of eating, person looks normal but the toxin starts to damage liver cells, which lasts for 2 to 3 days. This damage becomes apparent after 3 days and usually death occurs in between 3-7 days if left untreated.

Don’t worry, there are good fungi also like the yeasts helping fermentation. For us, alcohol is a cool product from yeast but for them, it’s just a byproduct sugar decomposition. Still who cares! Fungi helping us to create more fun in the form of beer, whisky, brandy, rum, wine, cider…..

How they made Penicilling (Image source: nlm.nih.gov)
How they made Penicilling (Image source: nlm.nih.gov)

Their benevolence doesn’t end here, fungi are also primary source of penicillin, a powerful antibiotics. Derived from Penicillum fungi for first time in 1928 by Alexander Fleming, Penicillin is one of a important antibiotics.

There are few bad guys under the mask of fun guy. We all know the bread molds, itchy scalps and dandruff, and various skin infections like Athlete’s foot. Be aware of those sheep in lamb’s clothing.

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