Importance of fungi as Food

Fungi figure prominently in the human diet. Morels, shiitake mushrooms, chanterelles, and truffles are considered delicacies. The meadow mushroom, Agaricus campestris, appears in many dishes. Molds of the genus Penicillium ripen many cheeses. They originate in the natural environment such as the caves of Roquefort, France, where wheels of sheep milk cheese are stacked to capture the molds responsible for the blue veins and pungent taste of the cheese.
Fermentation of grains to produce beer and of fruits to produce wine is an ancient art that humans in most cultures have practiced for millennia. Ancient humans acquired wild yeasts from the environment and used them to ferment sugars into CO2 and ethanol under anaerobic conditions. It is now possible to purchase isolated strains of wild yeasts from different wine-making regions. Louis Pasteur was instrumental in developing a reliable strain of brewer’s yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, for the French brewing industry in the late 1850s.

Saccharomyces cerevisiae, also known as baker’s yeast, is an important ingredient in bread, a food that has been considered a staple of human life for thousands of years. Before isolated yeast became available in modern times, humans simply let the dough collect yeast from the air and rise over a period of hours or days. A small piece of this leavened dough was saved and used as a starter (source of the same yeast) for the next batch, much in the same way sourdough bread is made today.

Source: Lumen Boundless Biology (https://courses.lumenlearning.com/boundless-biology/chapter/importance-of-fungi-in-human-life/)

By:- Dr. Neha Saini
Department of Botany
Uttaranchal (P.G.) College of Biomedical Sciences and Hospital