Sometimes, questions like why are fungi unable to live in dry areas arise in your mind and you begin the search for possible reasons but are unable to look for some valid ones. Then this article is all you need to understand about why are fungi unable to live in dry areas.
Fungi are present almost everywhere – in the air we breathe, in the food we eat, on the land we walk on, and even on and inside us. They are eukaryotes with a range of variety including plants and animals and they play a significant role in evolutionary ancestry to occupy the land.
Scientists have studied about 100,000 species of fungi but this is only a fraction of the 1.5 million species that are believed to be present on the surface of Earth.
Fungi are considered a separate kingdom alongside Plantae, Animalia, Protozoa, and Chromista in the five-kingdom classification system. The characteristic that distinguishes fungi from other kingdoms is the presence of chitin in their cell walls.
Fungi do not perform photosynthesis but acquire their food by absorbing dissolved molecules by secreting a variety of enzymes in the environment.
Why Are Fungi Unable To Live In Dry Areas?
Generally, fungi are saprophytes or parasites. In both situations, moisture is a prerequisite for their survival.
The unicellular fungi or reproducing spores have flagella for movement. These structures require moisture for movement and the absence of moisture makes them unable to move. This results in the death of fungi due to the unavailability of food.
So, such types of organisms can’t survive in dry conditions.
Fungi, like other living organisms, can live and grow if they have an adequate food supply, water sources, and oxygen from the air. But fungi, instead of chewing food or drinking water, grow in the form of narrow thread-like branches called hyphae.
Fungi mainly grow in warm humid conditions to facilitate the decomposition of organic matters as they are heterotrophic. Moisture accelerates the process of decomposition. But several microfungi can also survive in dry conditions if the nutrient supply is ambient.
Even though fungi cannot live in dry areas, they grow best in warm temperatures. Some species of fungi grow better at warm temperatures (70-90°F), but some thrive in very high temperatures of 130-150°F.
However, some also have the tendency to thrive in very low temperatures, even below 32°F (below freezing). So ideal climatic conditions vary for every type of fungi depending on its composition and characteristics.
Fungi have adapted to many different environments as their survival is dependent on water absorption and digestion of sugars and starches. Fungi can be found everywhere around us in the air, on the ground, in water, on plants, and on you also. All of these places provide the nutrients, warmth, and moisture fungi need for their growth.
Fungus grows quickly in moist or humid conditions because such conditions are considered the most favorable conditions for their growth. Fungi are not commonly seen growing in areas that have exposure to direct sunlight.
Drought is a dry period that is often prolonged as a result of climate change in any part of the world. It is considered a slowly coming disaster caused by the lack of precipitation, resulting in a water shortage.
Climate changes and globally occurring water shortages in recent years have made these episodes of drought more severe and disastrous.
Drought prevailing in an area not only results in water shortage but also affects the relationship and interaction between plants and fungi. Adequacy of water is believed to accelerate the interactions between biological components.
Understanding how fungi and other organisms are coping with these situations is very important because fungi are considered the major decomposers present today. Alteration in their functioning environments can have a major effect on their ability to function.
One of the major reasons the risk of drought is increasing is that increased temperature dries out the soil, especially during low precipitation periods. Dry soil results in plant death which again results in dry soil, creating a snowball effect. But the effects of drought do not stop at plants and some fungi also suffer.
Researchers at Germany’s University of Bayreuth conducted many experiments to investigate if fungi can stress prime like plants in drought season. They used Penicillium Chrysogenum and Neurospora Crassa for their experiments.
The fungi samples were first exposed to mild drought followed by a more severe one. They measured the activity of both varieties of fungi for better results. The results found that Penicillium Chrysogenum was able to stress prime through the drought conditions for seven days while on the other hand, Neurospora Crassa showed no results of stress prime.
It was concluded that stress priming comes with a cost. The fungi that were able to stress prime showed less growth as compared to fungi that grow in normal conditions. This happens because stress priming redirects the resources to use them for their survival in extreme conditions that are used for growth under normal conditions.
The continuous research and experiments over time show that the frequency, period, and intensity of drought events can favor some fungi species over others, causing changes in the composition of the fungal community.
Fungi having a stress prime factor would give them a competitive edge in the environment where the drought seasons prevail more frequently. While on the other hand, environments where droughts are not very common favors fungi without stress prime factors, as they can use their resources more effectively for their growth.