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Are Mushrooms Decomposers? Benefits, Detritivores, Worms

If you are curious about “Are Mushrooms Decomposers” then before that let me tell you if ever find mushrooms growing in your garden or yard, then this can mean that the soil of that area is healthy and good enough for many indoor and outdoor plants. Now it becomes an organic fertilizer and you don’t need a chemical one. It’s better than artificial plant food but are mushrooms decomposers or producers?

Are Mushrooms Decomposers

Are Mushrooms Decomposers? Mushrooms are decomposers, a type of fungi that break down dead plant and animal matter that is already decaying and decompose it as their own food source. Mushrooms as fungi rely on other organisms that have special enzymes which capture decay material and decompose it then it excretes nutrients into the soil. These fungi make the soil more fertile and nutrient rich which can be used for plants, vegetables and to make their own garden soil nutrients powered.

Most of the natural fertilizer is made from decomposing the organic matter present in nature. Just like mushrooms as decomposers break down the dead leaves, flowers and decaying animals the same way the compost is made by the different types of fungi that convert the waste to an organic material for plant growth.

Mushrooms are grown without sunlight, with decaying matter of plant and animal that is why it is high in protein and vitamin D. It is good for old age people who are vegetarian and want to be more veggies in their diet. They can make a dish out of mushrooms and other vegetables and voila you can have a beautiful tasty dish out there. Check Indian dishes, They are famous for making it tasty with a lot of masalas and spices.

Are mushrooms decomposers or producers?

Are mushrooms decomposers or producers?
JJ Harrison (https://www.jjharrison.com.au/), CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Mushroom and other fungi is a primary decomposer that recycles the nutrients of soil by decomposing dead and decay material. Just like mushrooms, all the fungi are the first decomposers that break down the dead matter before any secondary decomposer comes to eat it just like insects. 

Mushrooms are fruiting bodies that sprouted ounces of the fungi mycelium break down organic matter. The fungi is always present in soil, it uses hyphae, a root like structure that spreads out inside the soil then once they find dead or decaying leaves, animal or plant matter & convert it into useful nutrients. Plants can absorb the nutrients for their health. Also the fungi which decompose the organic matter creates mushroom, fruiting body. This mushroom grows above ground and has spores that are tiny that fly through air and spread everywhere. 

These spores are the ones that again start to break down the organic material like large dead trees, branches and produce mushrooms in return. Without these fungi, the decomposing of dead material on our planet cannot be converted back to nutrients. These are again plants used for their growth and health.

Did you know mushroom has its own benefits includes :

  1. They are rich in B vitamins, which can be useful in lowering cholesterol from the body.
  2. They can also provide essential antioxidants that protect the cells from manipulation, and also low calorie food.
  3. They are a good vegetarian source of protein and even some people suggest that it can also provide Vitamin D if put in sunlight, but that is another theory.
  4. There are many wild mushrooms which you should not consume because they can be toxic and might trigger bad effects in your body. Metals are one of the reasons that mushrooms can be dangerous for the body ‘s digestive system, and also some of the chemicals that can be dangerous for humans. 
  5. There are 2 mushrooms which have a good amount of benefits, like the fiber content is almost like a fruit. Those two are Shiitake and oyster mushrooms and some of the white mushrooms are good sources of vitamin D.
  6. Those who are vegetarian and stick to a balanced non-veg diet may add mushrooms because they can be good for your bones and immune health. It may also lower your heart issues and can make it more healthy.

Are mushrooms decomposers or detritivores?

Are mushrooms decomposers or detritivores
Spider.Dog from United Kingdom, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Mushrooms are decomposers not detritivores but both do similar work and eat the same kind of food. The major difference between decomposers and detritivores is that one breaks down the organic material while the other eats and excretes the nutrients.

In Simple terms, Decomposers like fungi, mushrooms decompose or break down the dead organic matter but the detritivores eat the tiny to large amount of dead matter and excrete it out. In both ways the result is the same , providing soil with more nutrients. 

Decomposers are not open, cannot be seen while the detritivores are open, can be seen, they reveal themselves and excrete the waste which is actually nutrients. The decomposers are doing the breakdown externally while the detritivores break down the dead internally and the result is excreted outside.  

Fungi is the primary decomposer while the detritivores can be a secondary or subset of the decomposer. Examples of decomposers are fungi and bacteria. Detritivores examples are earthworms, fiddlers, crabs, millipedes, dung flies, woodlice etc.

Decomposers in ecosystem: Why are decomposers important?

Decomposers in ecosystem are important fungi that restores the nutrients of the soil and without decomposers, producers won’t have much growth and the dead material of animals and plants would be accumulated and this makes the whole ecosystem unstable. Just like the food cycle, this is the similar thing which is crucial for our environment. 

Ever Wondered where the fallen leaves went, or the dead insect or animal body gone? They are decomposed by fungi or the detritivores or secondary decomposers. Without them it is impossible to process those dead matter and convert it into inorganic material that can be used by the producers for further growth. 

Restoring the soil health would result in fresh, healthy, large fruit, if it doesn’t happen then we cannot have the soil with nutrient profile. These decomposers also clean the nature or environment from getting ugly or bad odor. 

Decomposers generally break down organic matter into smaller particles and make a new inorganic matter which is added to soil that restores its nutrients value. The matter which is limited in our earth needs to be recycled and returned, that’s what decomposers do. They return the matter so that it can be used to make new components.

Types of decomposers

There are mainly 2 types of decomposers –

  1. Scavengers – One that eats the organic matter of dead animals and plants. for example birds, worms, crabs, insects.
  2. Decomposers – One that decomposes or breaks down organic matter of dead animals and plants. for example invertebrates, fungi, bacteria.

Moss is another decomposer that is also a producer.

INVERTEBRATES
INVERTEBRATES

 

Bacteria
Bacteria
 
Fungi Types Bacteria Types INVERTEBRATES Another
Mushroom PSEUDOMONAS FLUORESCENS Maggots Moss
Mold Bacillus subtilis Slugs  
Yeast Ants
Termites  
Earthworms  
Beetles that eats dead wood  
Snails  
Pill bugs  
Centipedes  
Millipedes
 

Benefits of mushrooms

Mushroom compost benefits can be seen in soil as it enhances the overall nutrient density of the soil. It works as a fertilizer which is all organic, as the fungi break down different material like animal, plant matter which then converted into the growth nutrients. It Encourages the soil growth, and if you have one of these mushrooms growing in your garden it means this is basically a natural high quality compost that can be used for plants. I have described all the mushroom compost benefits that have been there for years.

All Natural(Preserves Environment)

When I was growing vegetables in my garden, I had many concerns about the toxic chemical based fertilizer that is used by our vegetables then we eat it, Resulting in our immune system fighting for toxins. I wanted to use organic chemical free fertilizer that would naturally boost my garden strength to grow plants, and provide all nutrients that my soil needed. Mushroom compost is all I got that is natural, organic and can be used as fertilizer. It may not harm your plants or soil.

Provide Nutrients to Plants

Mushroom compost may enhance the soil nutritional profile and can boost the existing plant growth if given as mulch or directly dumped inside the soil. You don’t need an additional fertilizer because this mushroom compost is the best organic solution for you. The mushroom compost may also encourage the fungi of soil to break down more organic matter into useful nutrient dense soil. I am using some mushroom compost in my outdoor plant and they are all growing healthy.

Adaptable To Nature

The mushroom compost is all natural and can be used in multiple ways. You can use it by putting it on the surface of the soil as mulch, it will reduce the heat stress that leads to under watering in plants. I myself put mushroom compost in the soil directly before planting any seed or I just blend it with my potted soil so it gets the nutrients & good drainage.

Improve Moisture Retention

As I said already, when using mushroom compost as the soil topping or mulch , it will help the plant to preserve the water and not let the sun evaporate the water content easily from the soil. It covers the soil top surface which means the enhanced water retention which can avoid any underwatering issue in future. If you don’t know, on sunny days when it is sunny at the top, the water can be easily dried out, which makes the plant suffer from wilting and yellowing, and browning of leaves. 

With Mushroom compost your underwatering or low water issue is solved and it will help all the plants to grow and not let any wet conditions scare them. If water is supplied correctly and does not get dried then your plant will surely grow more because the soil is enriched with lots of nutrients from mushroom compost.

Protects from Pests and Weeds

Mushroom compost is generally clean and sterilized so it doesn’t have weeds or pests that normally people find in my potting soil. The compost can limit the infections and may increase the nutrition quality of the soil. It also helps with drainage so plants don’t get fungal root rot issues which solves the major problem for many gardeners nowadays.

Cheap Fertilizer

The mushroom fertilizer is cheap and less priced compared to the big brands that sell organic fertilizer which takes time to make. Some companies even sell chemical based fertilizer that is not good for your plants. If you are on a tight budget the mushroom compost is the best option and cheapest from most fertilizers. I would not choose any artificially made fertilizer that might increase my vegetable growth but have toxins inside of it when consumed.

There are many benefits of mushroom which are helpful for humans as well:

Protects Brain from Diseases

One study in Penn State, Explains that a person eating a minimum 5 button mushroom can prevent or may lower the risk or problems related to the nervous system. Diseases like Alzheimer and Parkinson’s can be prevented as mushrooms contain antioxidants – glutathione and ergothioneine which works for these problems.

Mushrooms have Vitamin D

As you know mushrooms that are grown Without UV and are labeled as UVB are rich in vitamin D because they convert the ergosterol to this vitamin which is good for bone health. This can be a food source for those living in shade, low sun environments as it fulfills your body daily vitamin D requirements like if you eat over 3 ounces.

It is Good for overall health

Mushrooms are famous for vegetarians as well as health freaks because it is low in calories, cholesterol and fat which makes it a superfood for many teenage and old.

What type of mushrooms are decomposers?

Most type of mushrooms are fungi and other likes mold and yeast all decompose the organic matter into useful nutrients. Fungi in particular don’t make their own food that’s why they rely on other dead organisms. Red and White Mushrooms both are type of fungi or fruiting bodies that break down the decaying material into the inorganic matter that makes the soil more nutrient rich.

As you know the mushrooms like red or white or collectively all of them are primary decomposers if they don’t break down the dead matter then the secondary decomposers like mildew, earthworms, ants, slugs eats it and excrete into smaller particles that is again used as boosting quality of any garden soil.

These Mushrooms also spread spores which are babies of the fungi. These will absorb any dead matter they found and break down into useful components. I have seen many mushrooms without the need for it growing in our gardens. Maybe there’s a rat or somethings dead animal or plant present which these fungi used to create a fruiting body like a mushroom. These mushrooms will spread more spores and multiply in different locations as they spread through air easily.

Are Worms decomposers?

Worms
Worms

Yes worms are secondary decomposers and the primary decomposers are fungi. Basically worms eat the food which is small in size so that it can easily enter in its mouth. They generally eat all the vegetable and fruit waste, dead plants but they don’t eat the meat products & everything that secondary decomposers don’t eat can be broken down by the fungi into useful matter that can be used by our garden soil. 

When worms excrete the waste it can be beneficial to plants we grow, making our garden soil more rich in nutrients. It is very important for the ecosystem as they are also a part of the food chain that restores the soil’s energy to again grow more plants. 

Want to learn About North American Style Gardening methods? Check out this Book by Edward C. Smith

If you heard vermicompost it has beneficial worms present in the soil that break down the organic matter into useful nutrients. It is made from the dead leaves, fruit and vegetable waste mixed with shredded papers, soil and water then all these things kept in a bin, also add worms, these will eat the organic matter to make soil rich inorganic matter. The vermicompost is good for seed germination, increases the drainage, and can make your soil more nutrient rich.

Is bacteria a decomposer?

Is bacteria a decomposer
Is bacteria a decomposer

With Fungi, Bacteria is also a decomposer which breaks down the dead and decaying organisms or matter into useful material. We cannot see the bacteria with naked eyes and are only visible with a microscope. Other decomposers like millipedes, termites, earthworms, ants, slugs, maggots are secondary decomposers which are visible with eyes are also called detritivores. They eat the dead matter and leaf tiny particles which are be used as compost.

There are 2 common bacteria which are decomposers – Pseudomonas fluorescens and Bacillus subtilis. These are present in almost all soils and useful for breaking down the dead and decaying animal and plant waste into inorganic matter. Bacteria is crucial for recycling the nutrients of the soil and it is also useful in making compost with the microbes present in compost being made by the bacteria.

Wrap up

I hope you get the answer on “Are Mushrooms Decomposers”. Also read my other articles from below.

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Can You Eat Cactus – Edible & Non Edible List

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