Fungal Effects on Populations and Communities

Fungi may be selective in their source of a food base or may be restricted in terms of resource exploitation by competition with other fungal species. Providing the resource contains carbohydrates for energy and nutrients for growth, however, this resource can come from living or dead plant or animal tissue or merely from chemicals in the atmosphere (Wainwright et al., 1997). This leads to another property of fungi, their pathogenicity to both plants and animals, whereby the fungi "eat" living organisms. The role of fungal pathogens in agriculture has been

the subject of considerable research over many years. Indeed, the potato blight in Ireland (1843-1846) could be regarded as a classic example of the magnitude of the effect of a fungus on ecosystems (Austin Bourke, 1964). The fungal-induced potato crop failure not only reduced crop yield, it reduced the population of grazing fauna (humans) and caused one of the largest emigrations of fauna from an infected area (the movement of thousands of Irish to the United States). The economic loss of crops has resulted in the development of a large agrochemical industry to provide effective fungicides to combat fungal diseases of plants. In addition to the loss of plant biomass, other effects of pathogens result in the reduction of the fitness of the host organism. This fitness can be measured in terms of loss of reproductive capacity. This reduced fitness has important consequences on the population of the organism and/or its competitive abilities within the community. Fungi are thus involved in the regulation of the community structure of organisms and the population of individual species. Chapter 5 will discuss the role of fungi in influencing animal and plant populations and community structure, but will consider mainly natural ecosystems rather than the agricultural implications.

Was this article helpful?

0 0
30 Day Low Carb Diet Ketosis Plan

30 Day Low Carb Diet Ketosis Plan

An Open Letter To Anyone Who Wants To Lose Up To 20 Pounds In 30 Days The 'Low Carb' Way. 30-Day Low Carb Diet 'Ketosis Plan' has already helped scores of people lose their excess pounds and inches faster and easier than they ever thought possible. Why not find out what 30-Day Low Carb Diet 'Ketosis Plan' can do for you by trying it out for yourself.

Get My Free Ebook


Post a comment