bolete boys

Bolete boy is a relative of king bolete mushrooms, also known as porcini, Boletus edulis, and many other names. These mushrooms are foraged and eaten by many people around the world. Distributed across the northern hemisphere, these mushrooms are mycorrhizal—meaning they live in partnerships with many different organisms, supporting and being supported by their ecologies. Among their common partnerships are conifers like pine, spruce, hemlock, and fir, as well as hardwoods like chestnut, beech, and oak.

Mycologists studying this mushroom have specifically found that it lives in a “triple symbiosis” system, or a plant-fungus-bacteria network. Within this system, and mycorrhizal systems at large, fungi are known to help make available and transport nutrients between plants, other fungi, and from the soil to the plants. Lately there’s been more attention to their bacterial partnerships, and it turns out that their bacterial partners play essential roles from helping transport nutrients to helping the fungus grow. 

This relationship has been essential to understanding why Boletus edulis populations have been noticeably decreasing, especially in Europe. As wildfires and drought have increased due to human-driven climate change, the bacterial composition of soils have been changing. A study has shown that even slight changes in soil bacteria can have drastic effects on the fungi’s ability to produce mushrooms.

Bolete boys remind us of how interconnected and interdependent we all are, human and beyond. 

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