Michael J. Hathaway
Princeton University Press
What a Mushroom Lives For:
A surprise-filled journey into science and human culture, this exciting and provocative book shows how fungi shape our planet and our lives in strange, diverse, and often unimaginable ways.
A range of fungal forms
Fungi are like animals in several ways, for indeed we are both within the larger category... opisthokonts. This means we each need to consume other organisms to survive... Moreover, we both breathe in oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide. Some fungi eat live animals, hunting them with snare traps and sticky nets.
The microscopic fungi are all around us, ... yeast that transforms wheat into bread, barley into beer, and grapes into wine.
Fungi, thus, bring bread into being, but they can also take it away from us, as many people keep bread until blue mold appears in ever expanding circles.
Next time you're at a cemetery, study the lichens growing on tombstones, as mycologist Anne Pringle does. While the stones represent human death, they may offer lichens a site for potential immortality.
In Southwest China's Yunnan Province, high on the Tibetan Plateau, you can climb a hillside at dawn during the late summer and early fall, and looking down, although the night is ending rather than beginning, it will seem as if stars are coming out in the valley below. They are flashlights, carried by villagers walking up into mountains to hunt for matsutake mushrooms.