Fungi and animals have a special relationship that has been recognized since the 1980s. This relationship is known as the "pista concept," which includes all fungi and all animals. The pista concept suggests that animal life diverged from proto-fungi around 1.5 billion years ago in the ocean rather than on land. Fungi, in many ways, act as nature's garbage reprocessing plant, maintaining the integrity and balance of the nutrient cycle.

It is believed that life on Earth is like a great oak tree, with the first shoot to emerge from the acorn going downward into the soil (the radical) and the second shoot going upward (the perennial) to form the trunk, branches, and twigs. On this tree of life, we are on the twigs and one of the most recent forks in these twigs is the one that created all of the fungi and all of the animals today. This fork can be traced back to the sprouting of the acorn at the beginning of the Hadean period 4.2 billion years ago.

Fungi play a crucial role in nutrient sharing between different species, particularly in forests. The ratio of fungi to bacteria in the soil is critical for soil health, with the best ratios found in mature forests and the poorest ratios found in intensively farmed soils. Fungi also create symbiotic relationships across different boundaries such as the lichens, which are partnerships between fungi and algae. These lichens feed each other and are made up of at least two species of fungi, one being ASCOMYCETES and the other being BASIDIOMYCETES.

Fungi can also secrete acids to harvest minerals from rocks and enzymes to mine them from large organic molecules like carbohydrates and proteins. The diversity and complexity of fungi is truly remarkable, and they play a critical role in maintaining the balance of life on Earth.

The pista concept illustrates the important relationship between fungi and animals, dating back to ancient times. Fungi act as nature's garbage reprocessing plant and play a crucial role in nutrient cycling and maintaining the balance of ecosystems. Understanding the role of fungi in our world is essential in preserving the delicate balance of life on Earth.

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