Fungi Facts

Fungi Facts
Fungi are living organisms that are found all over the earth, and can range in size from being microscopic to as large as many square miles. More than 100,000 species of fungi have been identified, but it is estimated that there are at least 1.5 million species on earth. Although once thought to be a plant, scientists have since come to distinguish them as their own group of living organisms. Unlike plants, whose cell walls are made up of cellulose, fungi cell walls are made up of chitin. Unlike plants, fungi are not able to make their own food and must get food by eating off their hosts or from decomposing matter. Fungi reproduce by spores while plants reproduce through seeds, fruit, or pollen.
Interesting Fungi Facts:
The word 'fungus' is Latin for the word 'mushrooms'.
Fungi are much closer to animals than plants because of their biology. Animals and fungi are both part of the super-kingdom referred to as Opisthokonta.
Fungi are eukaryotic. This means that the cells contain organelles and a nucleus within membrane walls.
Fungi are sometimes used for food. Mushrooms and truffles are fungi.
Yeast is a type of fungi used in baking, which helps to make bread rise.
Fungi are used to create important medicine for people, including antibiotics such as penicillin.
Fungi can be divided into four groups. These groups include club fungi, molds, sac fungi, and imperfect fungi.
The club fungi group includes mushrooms. These can be edible or deadly poisonous so it is important not to eat mushrooms that are found growing in the wild. The Destroying Angel mushroom is an example of a deadly poisonous mushroom.
Mold fungi are the types that usually grow on cheese, bread, and old fruit. These fungi can look furry and release spores into the air.
Cheeses are made with the help of different fungi species.
A scientist that studies fungi is called a mycologist.
Fungi eat a variety of decomposing matter including fruit, trees, plants, dead and living animals, manure, and bird droppings, among many other things.
Athlete's foot is a common fungal disease that causes someone's feet to become red and itchy.
A 90 million year old mushroom was found in amber. It is called a Cordyceps.
Some scientists believe that some mushrooms on earth have grown from spores that traveled to earth from outer space.
It is possible for some mushroom spores to be dormant for a hundred years and then grow successfully into mushrooms.
Some mushrooms can be used for a process called bioremediation. This process uses mushrooms to digest pollutants and dangerous substances such as industrial waste, pesticides, and oil, from the environment.
Fungi can grow in areas where other organisms can't, such as in deserts, high salt environments, the deep sea, in high UV and cosmic radiation regions of the atmosphere and space, and in other living creatures.
Fungi were not able to be studied fully until the invention of the microscope, in the 1500s. The first spores seen by a human were observed in 1588, by Giambattista della Porta, an Italian scholar living in Naples during the Scientific Revolution.

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