Mushrooms and Fungi

What is Fungi

A fungus is a member of a large group of eukaryote organisms that includes micro-organisms such as yeasts and moulds, as well as the more familiar mushrooms. These organisms are classified as a kingdom, Fungi, which is separate from plants, animals, and bacteria. One major difference is that fungal cells have cell walls that contain chitin, unlike the cell walls of plants which contain cellulose.

Without fungi, there would be no forests, and perhaps not even any land plants. This is because a few thousand fungi have evolved intimate and essential relationships with the roots of almost all living plants. They work like this...

The fungus explores the soil and brings back scarce mineral nutrients, especially phosphorus, to the plant. The plant hands over to the fungus some of the sugars it has made by photosynthesis.

The fungi grow around and into the roots, establishing a microscopic interface across which phosphorus moves one way while sugars move the other way. Both partners benefit, and neither would thrive without the other.

The partnership is called a mycorrhizal symbiosis, and about 90% of all plants have these specialized fungi on and in their roots..