The Ecology of Fungal Food Spoilage
Food is not commonly regarded as an ecosystem, perhaps on the basis that it is not a “natural” system. Nevertheless an ecosystem it is and an important one, because food plants and the fungi that colonise their fruiting parts (seeds and fruit) have been co-evolving for millennia. The seed and nut caches of rodents have provided a niche for the development of storage fungi. Fallen fruit, as they go through the cycle of decay and desiccation, have provided substrate for a range of fungi. Humans have aided and abetted the development of food spoilage fungi through their vast and varied food stores. It can be argued, indeed, some rapidly evolving organisms, such as haploid asexual fungi, are moving into niches created by man’s exploitation of certain plants as food.