Life, an Ancient Symbiosis

Updated: May 27, 2020

As we look back at the lineage of evolution that brought us to this moment, we can acknowledge the aid of fungi through the eons as key players in the progression of life in adapting to early conditions on earth. The attributes of adaptability and symbiosis allowed fungi to weave through the eons in interlocking relationships with the rest of the web of life to meet the conditions and challenges of living on earth.

New molecular evidence of fungi discovered in Neoproterozic dolomite shells dated 810 to 750 million years suggests that fungi may have been crucial to early colonization of land.

The discovery of ancient mycelial fossils preserved within lava suggest that fungi may have existed as far back as 2.4 billion years, and that they may have originated from the sea.

The ancient dating of fungi provides us with deep insight that fungi were indeed key players within the evolution of the early web of life.

Today, scientists and mycologists alike still struggle with understanding the depth of symbiosis that fungi exhibit. Lichen, something every Pacific Northwest inhabitant has encountered, is actually a symbiotic organism. Its inherent being is a partnership. Lichen is a singular organism that consists of a coalition between fungi and species of algae or cyanobacterium. This makes it difficult to classify them in an easy-to-understand category like other organisms within the web of life.

Genetic analysis has revealed that lichen symbiosis occurred a few times throughout evolutionary history, allowing a temporal partnership from which other species may have later separated independently.

What does this mean?

That the ancient emergence and adaptation of life may well have been attributed to the evolution of deep partnerships through fungi and other organisms.

But that shouldn't surprise us...

We have trillions of microbes that constitute our gut flora, and depending on species present, may influence our moods and behaviors.

We too, our a symbiosis at our core. It is essential to understand that within us and connected to the webs of life surrounding us, we are interconnected in the core of our biology.

From the species of plants we cultivate for food to the influence of animals we breed as livestock and pets, we as humans exist in a deep partnership with the web of life surrounding us, and it is truly inescapable.

In other words...

We are the Symbiosis

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