Allies & Enemies
Allies and enemies is really a continuum. Something that is labeled an enemy may in fact have some kind of benefit that it provides to the fungus and the same goes for those labeled ally.
Nematodes: help fungi to decompose dung. Also when the food source starts to run out nematodes climb on top of Pilobolus and get themselves launched into new grass and wait to be eaten by a cow or other herbivore as well. this can be seen as an ally to the fungus by assisting it to decompose the world's dung supply but it can also be thought of as an enemy because it may interfere with spore dispersal.
Cows & Other herbivores: Provide a rich food source for fungus to survive on. Also act as a spore dispersal mechanism. Pilobolus would not be able to survive with out the dung provided by the herbivores. It would also not be able to survive if the herbivores didn't eat the spores of the fungus and deposit them into a new food source. These are definitely not enemies although Dung the Great tries to claim that they are on his side.
Fellow Saprobic Fungi: Compete with Pilobolus to eat rich food source. These are definitely enemies because Pilobolus is working towards optimal growth range and although other saprobic fungi provide biodiversity which could be argued as a benefit they are crowding the available space.
Dung Consuming Bacteria: Compete with Pilobolus over food source. Similar to the fellow saprobic fungi. Except bacteria can be considered an ally because they have slightly differing roles in nutrient cycling. They can also be considered allies in the battle to control human waste products.
Humans: are an enemy to every living thing that isn't human as well, but may also be looked as an ally in some cases. If humans did not keep cows in fenced in pastures it would reduce the chances that Pilobolus spores would be eaten and thus passed on. As always humans dump harmful wastes, cause horrible carbon, nitrogen, and sulfur emissions, and destroy nature in every direction. Fungi serve as important circlers of nutrients and decomposers of dead organic material but humans are building this stuff up at alarming rates--too fast for fungi to keep up.
©2007 by Ashley Seidler
This page was developed for Biology 203 (Organismal Biology) at the University of Wisconsin La Crosse
Last updated April 27, 2007
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