Mushrooms, God’s Waste Processors

 Mushrooms, God's Waste Processors

We are all familiar with the green plants that grow in our yards and gardens. Most of us know that the process that converts the energy of the Sun into food for the plant is called photosynthesis. “Photo” means light, and “synthesis” means change. The change is made possible by a wonderfully well-designed material called chlorophyll, which means “green leaf” in Greek. What happens when there is no light and no chlorophyll? This is essentially the issue on the forest floor, where detritus piles up, including cellulose from plants and organic material from both plants and animals. A whole different kind of organism is required to change all of that material into useful energy. That is why we have plants such as mushrooms, God’s waste processors.

Instead of cellulose, which makes up the cell walls of most plants, the cell walls of a mushroom are made of chitin. Chitin is a protein similar to the keratin in your hair and fingernails. Mushrooms are fungi that use chemical changes to turn dead plant material into energy, which may be useful to other forms of life. There are hundreds of different kinds of mushrooms and thousands of different types of toadstools. Each kind contains materials that allow these plants to clean up anything that might be on the floor of the forest.

Not only do mushrooms and toadstools clean up the forest floor, but they also supply humans and animals with a variety of useful materials. Humans can eat many forms of mushrooms, and animals can eat some varieties that humans cannot. We use mushrooms and toadstools to make dye, detergents, bug killers, and medicines for humans and animals.

Everything in the creation has a purpose, but sometimes we are ignorant of the uses and benefits of things like mushrooms. God has designed not only the beautiful things we see, but also the beautiful things we don’t see, but which are essential to our existence. Mushrooms are fungi, and we often think of a fungus as something negative and bad. However, mushrooms, God’s waste processors, play a positive role in support of our life on this planet.

We have a children’s book titled The Friendly Fungus Among Us by Charlsy Ford and John Clayton. You can read it online HERE or purchase it HERE.

— John N. Clayton © 2019

It’s Good to be Blue

It's Good to Be Blue Begonia Leaf
It’s a plant that uses quantum mechanics to make maximum use of minimum light, and in doing so, it displays blue leaves. The explanation of why blue begonias are blue is another demonstration of the incredible design built into all living things.

The tropical begonia (Begonia pavonina) that grows in Malaysia has leaves that are iridescent blue. The blue does not come from pigmentation, but rather from structural color, a technique that gives beautiful color to some birds, Butterflies, and beetles. In the leaves of all kinds of plants there are cellular capsules called chloroplasts, and inside those structures is a green substance known as chlorophyll. The chloroplasts are the organic machines that take energy from sunlight and chemicals from the soil to make organic energy that allows the plant grow.

Sunlight is a mixture of light at various energy levels, but green is the highest energy of sunlight reaching the surface of the Earth. Since the chlorophyll pigment reflects green light, the plant is protected from being damaged by the high-energy sunlight. We see the reflected green light, so the leaves look green.

Blue begonias live on the floor of dense rain forests where the forest canopy restricts the light. Inside the chloroplasts of these begonias, there are nano-structures called thylakoids where the energy conversion takes place. Other plants have thylakoids, but they are arranged differently in the begonia. Scientists using an electron microscope discovered that the thylakoids are aligned in a way that they act like crystals. In other plants, they are haphazard in their arrangement. Light bounces around within the thylakoids causing interference at certain wavelengths and reflecting the iridescent blue. The light is slowed down in this process so the plant can use more of the high-energy green and red light while reflecting the blue. These plants are using principles of quantum mechanics which scientists only began to learn about in the twentieth century.

The result is that the blue begonias get the nutrition they need to survive in a location with little sunlight, and we see the leaves as a beautiful blue. One science website described the alignment of the thylakoids in this way: “…they have an amazingly regular structure, which is obviously planned.” Here is the way another science website described the unique way these begonias efficiently use the limited sunshine they receive: “It seems selective evolution led the plants to engineer a nanoscale light-trapping structure, the likes we’ve only seen in miniature lasers and other photonic structures made by humans…”

We believe that planning requires a planner and engineering requires an engineer. As scientists study even the simplest forms of life, they find more and more evidence that God is ingenious in all He creates.

–John N. Clayton and Roland Earnst © 2017