The Fungus Among Us

What do you think of when someone talks about fungi? Often, mushrooms are the first image to come to mind, or maybe even a corny joke about being a fun-guy.

While mushrooms are commonly recognized as fungi, the classification is much larger than you may think! Fungi are distinct due to their wide variations of size, shape, color, ability to thrive in a range of environmental conditions, and their many uses in modern day society. Fungi are the source for many of the medications we use, like penicillin, and even found in the foods that we eat. The yeast we use for baking bread is a single-celled fungus, and the mushrooms we encounter on a walk outside are multi-celled fungi!

 It wasn’t until the late sixties that fungi gained their own scientific category, separate of plants. One of the main factors in the new classification was due to the bacteria’s methods of “feeding”. Rather than basking in the sun to create chlorophyll, by way of the photosynthetic process, fungi require the nutrition found in organic matter. This makes their eating habits similar to those of animals!