Under the leaf litter and in the soil are the micro-organisms that contribute in a highly significant and inextricable way to the health of everything growing in the area. The majority of vascular plants have what’s known as mycorrhizae, the symbiotic association of the mycelium of a fungus with the roots of plants. The fungus, the fruiting bodies of the mycorrhizae that feed on decaying matter and help nourish roots, serves to assist in the absorption of minerals and water from the soil defending the roots from other fungi and nematodes, and in return, the plant provides carbohydrates to the fungus. It is thought that in natural plant associations, mycorrhizae facilitate the communication and mutual support of trees with one another.
Paul Stamets, a leading American mycologist, whose work has been deemed pioneering and visionary, is a strong advocate of preserving biodiversity. He supports research into the role of mushrooms for ecological restoration and is a leading researcher into the use of mushrooms in bioremediation, processes he refers to as “mycoremediation and mycofiltration.” He wrote Mycelium Running: How mushrooms can help save the world and a documentary entitled Dirt – The Movie.