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Home / Science / Ford illuminates the unique component of the ecosystem – Lifestyle – Greenwood Democrat

Ford illuminates the unique component of the ecosystem – Lifestyle – Greenwood Democrat



LITTLE ROCK – An employee of the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture broadens the public's understanding of a modest but essential element of the ecosystem.

"The public should understand that they are part of the natural world, without them the plantations will fail and the world will have no crops and forests," he said. "Fungi are an important link in field and forest health.

Fungi form relationships with various parts of the ecosystem that may be harmful or beneficial.

" As parasites, they can destroy plants and forests. These natural pathogens accelerate succession, allowing later succession species to populate the sites, "said Victor Ford, deputy director of agriculture and natural resources for the Cooperative Extension Service, part of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.

Disintegrate as Saprophytes they plant material and recycle nutrients, "he said. "With this method, plant nutrients can be absorbed by living plants, creating humus and increasing soil fertility."

"Mycorrhizal fungi make up mycorrhiza, which consists of a root of a plant and hyphae, a filamentous, threadlike, vegetative structure of the fungus "This relationship has a positive effect on the plant, as water and nutrients are absorbed more efficiently. The fungi also have antifungal properties that can prevent plant diseases. The fungus gets carbohydrates and vitamins from the plant.

Ford was fascinated by mushrooms at a young age.

"I've collected morels as a child in East Tennessee in the woods behind my parents' house," he said. "I've always been interested in learning To identify things in nature. "

His passion grew in college when he started working in a university lab.

" When I started my thesis on mycorrhiza, I took lessons on mushroom taxonomy and ecology. I had the pleasure and honor of working in the laboratory of the late Dr. Orson K. Miller Jr. when I was at Virginia Tech, "he said." DR. Miller wrote the book "Mushrooms from North America". He was one of the giants in the taxonomy of mushrooms. I took this discipline very well and especially loved the microscopy work.

Ford actively informs the public about the importance of mushrooms

"I keep gardeners in the garden and others interested in mushrooms. I give lectures on the mushroom tree trunks demonstration on field tours and meetings, "he said." I have a stall every year at the Arkansas Flower and Garden Show on Mushrooms. "

Studying these mushrooms can be fascinating, especially if you Exploring forest soils for different types of mushrooms.

"I enjoy the process of identifying and placing the mushrooms in the right context with their environment," said Ford. "I also enjoy finding things in the woods that are edible can not buy. "

Ford said there are plenty of resources available for anyone interested in mushrooms.

" I recommend that when people are interested in fungus identification. "They join the Arkansas Mycological Society go on one of their forays, "he said.

Ford will be working on many projects in the near future.

"I would like to look at the cultivation of lion's manes, hen-of-woods and various varieties of oyster mushrooms on tree trunks, we need to test more strains of shiitake for the Arkansas climate," he said.

These mushrooms are especially her "Both lion's mane and hen-of-the-woods are grown and delicious," said Ford. "Lions mane tastes similar to lobster, both of which are desired by gourmet restaurants."

Shiitake, a native mushroom, is introduced to foreign climates for testing purposes.

"Shiitake comes from cooler climates than Arkansas, and in the 1

980's we found out that there are some shiitake strains that work well in our climate and those that do not," said Ford. "Shiitake is not native to North America. When new strains are introduced, they must be evaluated for our climate. "

For more information on the North American mycological association and fungi, see: http://www.namyco.org/


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