The African rain forest may have been home to “agriculture” have termites.
Biologists from Ohio state University and Wageningen University discovered the remains of the oldest known crops.
It was the mushroom gardens in fossilized termite nests East Africa, whose age is 25 million years. The article was published in the journal PLOS ONE.
Some types of termites grow fungi of the genus Termitomyces in special chambers of their nests. They grow on the excrement of insects and plant debris, as an additional source of food.
Using genetic analyses, scientists have found that termites have started to cultivate mushrooms 25-30 million years ago. Fossils found in Tanzania, have confirmed this that allowed researchers to more accurately disclose the duration and evolution of symbiotic relationships between termites and fungi. According to scientists, this symbiosis has had a significant impact on the environment.
Mushroom gardens influence the distribution of nutrients in the African landscape, impacting on the lives of various organisms, including bacteria, plants and animals. In addition, the emergence of the termites ability to grow mushrooms contributed to the expansion of the habitats of both organisms. Something similar happened in humans when the latter started domestication of plants and animals.
The African rain forest may have been home to “agriculture” have termites. Mushroom helped the insects to develop less favourable to stay dry savanna and, eventually, to migrate from Africa to Asia.