Fungal Biology in the Origin and Emergence of Life by David Moore

Published by Cambridge University Press [ISBN: 9781107652774]; January 2013.

The rhythm of life on Earth includes several strong themes contributed by Kingdom Fungi. So why are fungi ignored when theorists ponder the origin of life on this planet? This book is a mycologist’s tale about the origin and emergence of life on Earth based on the most recent research.

There are many books available about the origin of life, most of which have been written by physicists, cosmologists, astronomers, chemists or molecular biologists. They are fascinating stories but they are biologically naïve. Most existing books discuss only animal life, although animals were the last major group of organisms to emerge in evolution and therefore have least to reveal about the origin of life. Some books include discussion of photosynthesis, bacterial and/or plant; but none discuss fungi, although in terms of biodiversity kingdom fungi is arguably the most numerous and most diverse kingdom on the planet, and exerts the most profound influence on every ecosystem.

The unique feature of this book is that it is based on a proper understanding of the full biodiversity of this planet and the central role of the fungal grade of organisation in the evolution of higher organisms is given due attention. David Moore also points out how aspects of the fungal lifestyle are detectable through the whole of the evolution of life; right back to the chemical evolutionary logic of the biogenic processes that occurred before the origin of life.

This has never been done before, and the main reason it has not been done is that other writers on the topic of the origin and early evolution of life have been, and still are, ignorant of the sheer size, diversity and importance of Kingdom Fungi in the Earth’s biosphere today and throughout its evolution.

So what’s the book about?

Forget theories in which life originated in a one-off event in an ocean-scale primeval soup, or in a deep, hot place somewhere, or even a warm little pond. Life originated as a biofilm, with precursors for the first slimy films brought together by octillions of drifting aerosol droplets from around the globe acting as dynamic reaction vessels in a chemically diverse ocean and atmosphere. Life’s game on Earth first played out in rainwater and seawater trickling through roofs of volcanic caves on the spindrift-washed shore of volcanic islands in an endless shallow stormy sea. In the slime on the volcanic sand the pre-biofilms of 4 billion years ago confined the prebiotic chemistries from many sources of a turbulent planet. Primitive biofilms evolved and those of 2 billion years ago confined together prokaryotes to collaborate to form the first unicellular stem eukaryotes; fostering emergence of eukaryotes, by doing what biofilms do.

The book Fungal Biology in the Origin and Emergence of Life is presented in 13 chapters:

  • Chapter 1. Learning from life on Earth in the present day
  • Chapter 2. Essentials of fungal cell biology
  • Chapter 3. First, make a habitat
  • Chapter 4. The building blocks of life
  • Chapter 5. An extraterrestrial origin of life?
  • Chapter 6. Endogenous synthesis of prebiotic organic compounds on the young Earth
  • Chapter 7. Cooking the recipe for life
  • Chapter 8. “It’s life, Jim…”
  • Chapter 9. Coming alive: what happened and where?
  • Chapter 10. My name is LUCA
  • Chapter 11. Towards eukaryotes
  • Chapter 12. Rise of the fungi
  • Chapter 13. Emergence of diversity

Remember the citation:

Moore, David, 2013. Fungal Biology in the Origin and Emergence of Life. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. ISBN: 9781107652774.

Visit the publisher’s website, and/or the Amazon page.

Updated December 7, 2016