The Life Cycle of Fungi

By: Inaara Jiwani and Zarah Punjwani

Step 1

Fungi start life as tiny spores. When a spore lands on favorable real estate (depending upon the species this might be a slice of bread, a fallen log, or a pile of leaves) it sends out a thin, hair-like tube called a hypha (plural hyphae).

Step 2

The hypha secretes enzymes that break down the chosen food source. These enzymes are similar to those found in the stomachs of animals, but “digestion” takes place outside the fungus. Nutrients are then absorbed by the hypha. "Exploring Fungi - Kids Discover." Kids Discover.

Step 3

The fungus grows more and more hyphae within the food source. Eventually these hyphae form a crisscrossed mat that looks a bit like cobwebs. This mat is called a mycelium. The only part of a fungus we usually see is the fruiting body. "Exploring Fungi - Kids Discover." Kids Discover.

Step 4

Fungi produce a dizzying array of fruiting bodies—from teeny, tiny knobs on the ends of visible bread mold to giant to bright red fly agaric toadstools. The fruiting body’s primary function is to launch the next generation, in the form of spores, out into the world. Spores that fall on favorable locations start the process all over again.