There are about 500 marine fungi species within the marine ecosystem. That’s a small number compared to those that are waiting to be discovered. Marine fungi may either bring negative or positive impacts to the ecosystem. They may cause infections to fish or attack the eggs of marine creatures.
However, they also have some positive traits. Here are the 15 Importance of Marine Fungi that you may not know about. They play a huge role in helping the marine ecosystem function and improve the quality of human lives.
1. Decay Wood
Marine fungi are important in being one of the main decomposers in the ocean. Sometimes wood would wind up drifting along the water. This is where the fungi become useful. They are very great at decaying wood. As the wood breaks down, it will also promote healthy nutrients that marine lives would need.
2. Consume Dead Creatures
Other than decaying wood, fungi are also great at consuming dead marine creatures. For instance, they can help in breaking down dead or rotten whales. The broken down particles also serve as nutrients for the surrounding marine creatures that are still alive in the ocean. The nutrients might also be good for the sediments in the ocean.
3. Prevent Dehydration during Low Tide
During the low tide, it is very common for marine creatures to become easily stressed. They are more exposed to air and heat. Both marine fungi and green algae work together to prevent extreme hydration in the low tide. They trap in moisture which will help marine creatures to survive. Read more about Main Causes of Ocean Tides.
4. Provide DNA Data
There is still little information known about the marine fungi. Scientists are still working on gaining more details about them. The existence of the marine fungi are crucial as they hold the necessary DNA data. Those data will tell researchers how they behave, their features and how they continue to thrive in the ocean.
5. Eat Away Oil
Oil spills are highly unwanted disasters. Unfortunately, they happen quite frequently. The devastation can be small but often times, it can be massive. Bacterias are used to treat the oil spillage but marine fungi can handle it too. They release enzymes that can break down the components of the oil. Also read on Types of Ocean Bacteria.
6. Break Down Industrial Toxins
Industrial toxins may come into contact with the ocean water due to poor water treatment or leaching. They are harmful to marine creatures and cause a lot of damage to the marine environment. But thanks to the enzyme that marine fungi have, they can also break down those toxins. So, they are able to reduce any harmful effects caused by the industrial toxins.
7. Control the Number of Parasites
Although parasites are great at nutrient cycling, too much of them can be a bad thing. They may harm marine creatures in the ocean. But marine fungi can help in controlling their population. They are important here because some of them can eat the parasites. An example would be the nematophagous fungi. Those fungi come after the parasites that reside in the ocean soil. Read about Types of Ocean Parasites.
8. Attract Parasites
Other than eating the parasites, the marine fungi can also attract them. They would secrete chemicals that would make the parasites come to them. Thus, healthy parasites can be consumed by the marine fungi. Other than controlling the population, the marine fungi are also carrying out the important marine food web.
9. Pharmaceutical Applications
Marine fungi are often used in pharmaceutical applications. They are known for their antimicrobial property. Their components are involved in the production of vitamins or even pigments. Reportedly, they also have anti tumor or anticancer compounds but studies are still conducted for more information on it.
10. Expanding Biotechnology
In biotechnology, marine fungi are considered important even though there is still not a lot known about them. Scientists are eager to find out more about marine fungi to open up their potential in biotechnology. Now, marine fungi are still heavily used based on their enzymes production.
11. Usage in Mycotechnology
Mycotechnology focuses on improving the quality of food and beverages. The thing is that they rely on marine fungi. In mycotechnology, the marine fungi undergo fermentation which can remove bitterness and enhance taste. Other than that, it is said that marine fungi can turn the food or beverage into a healthier option.
12. Making Cosmeceutical Products
Many people use cosmeceutical products every day for various reasons. Marine fungi is important here because they’re greatly improving the overall condition of people’s skin. They are able to treat acnes, prevent premature skin aging and also help to brighten up the face. Marine fungi benefit both humans and the cosmetic industry.
13. Prevent Loss of Sea Marshes
Sea snails can cause a lot of damages to the plants that live in the sea marshes. But due to that damage, marine fungi are able to form. The sea snails prefer the marine fungi more than the plants which would provide some recovery to the sea marshes. This enables huge loss of sea marshes that are important to the marine ecosystem. Read more on Functions of Ocean Ecosystem.
14. Anti Malaria Property
Apparently marine fungi are present in seaweed too. But according to research, the fungi have a special property that makes them able to fight off malaria. Malaria can be deadly to humans and animals. With more studies in the future, marine fungi may provide crucial information on treating malaria.
15. Treating HIV
HIV affects millions of people worldwide. Marine fungi contain properties that make them able to treat HIV. They have compounds that many researchers believe will help in treating the disease. But more studies will be needed to ensure their effectiveness in treatment.
As scientists uncover more marine fungi, we might be able to understand them better. This will lead to more information which will be beneficial to the marine ecosystem and to use. More knowledge would help us advance to use marine fungi that will help to save lives.