Fungi are important to human life on many levels. They influence the well-being of human populations on a large scale because they are part of the nutrient cycle in ecosystems. They also have other ecosystem uses.
- Biological Insecticides
As insect pathogens, fungi help to control the population of damaging pests. These fungi are very specific to the insects they attack; they do not infect animals or plants.
The mycorrhizal relationship between fungi and plant roots is essential for the productivity of farm land. Mycorrhizal fungal inoculants are available as soil additives from gardening supply stores and are promoted by supporters of organic agriculture.
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.