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Temporal range: Middle
A collage of five fungi (clockwise from top left): a mushroom with a flat red top with white spots and a white stem growing on the ground; a red cup-shaped fungus growing on wood; a stack of green and white moldy bread slices on a plate; a microscopic spherical grey semitransparent cell with a smaller spherical cell beside it; a microscopic view of an elongated cellular structure shaped like a microphone, attached to the larger end is a number of smaller roughly circular elements that collectively form a mass around it
Clockwise from top left:
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Clade: Obazoa
(unranked): Opisthokonta
Clade: Holomycota
Kingdom: Fungi
(L.) R.T.Moore[1]

A fungus (pl.: fungi

molds, as well as the more familiar mushrooms. These organisms are classified as one of the traditional eukaryotic kingdoms, along with Animalia, Plantae and either Protista[4] or Protozoa and Chromista.[5]

A characteristic that places fungi in a different kingdom from

monophyletic group), an interpretation that is also strongly supported by molecular phylogenetics. This fungal group is distinct from the structurally similar myxomycetes (slime molds) and oomycetes (water molds). The discipline of biology devoted to the study of fungi is known as mycology (from the Greek μύκης mykes, mushroom). In the past mycology was regarded as a branch of botany
, although it is now known that fungi are genetically more closely related to animals than to plants.

Abundant worldwide, most fungi are inconspicuous because of the small size of their structures, and their

rice blast disease) or food spoilage can have a large impact on human food supplies
and local economies.

The fungus kingdom encompasses an enormous diversity of



The English word fungus is directly adopted from the

macroscopic structures and morphology of mushrooms and molds;[10] the root is also used in other languages, such as the German Schwamm ('sponge') and Schimmel ('mold').[11]

The word mycology is derived from the Greek mykes (μύκης 'mushroom') and logos (λόγος 'discourse').[12] It denotes the scientific study of fungi. The Latin adjectival form of "mycology" (mycologicæ) appeared as early as 1796 in a book on the subject by Christiaan Hendrik Persoon.[13] The word appeared in English as early as 1824 in a book by Robert Kaye Greville.[14] In 1836 the English naturalist Miles Joseph Berkeley's publication The English Flora of Sir James Edward Smith, Vol. 5. also refers to mycology as the study of fungi.[10][15]

A group of all the fungi present in a particular region is known as

Species Survival Commission (SSC) of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in August 2021 asked that the phrase fauna and flora be replaced by fauna, flora, and funga.[18]


Fungal cell cycle showing Dikaryons typical of Higher Fungi

Before the introduction of

mosses. The fungi are now considered a separate kingdom, distinct from both plants and animals, from which they appear to have diverged around one billion years ago (around the start of the Neoproterozoic Era).[21][22]
Some morphological, biochemical, and genetic features are shared with other organisms, while others are unique to the fungi, clearly separating them from the other kingdoms:

Shared features:

Unique features:

  • Some species grow as unicellular yeasts that reproduce by
    Dimorphic fungi can switch between a yeast phase and a hyphal phase in response to environmental conditions.[33]
  • The fungal cell wall is made of a
    arthropods,[35] fungi are the only organisms that combine these two structural molecules in their cell wall. Unlike those of plants and oomycetes, fungal cell walls do not contain cellulose.[36][37]
A whitish fan or funnel-shaped mushroom growing at the base of a tree.
Omphalotus nidiformis, a bioluminescent mushroom

Most fungi lack an efficient system for the long-distance transport of water and nutrients, such as the

sequence and other characteristics, which indicates separate origins and convergent evolution of these enzymes in the fungi and plants.[39][41]


Bracket fungi
on a tree stump

Fungi have a worldwide distribution, and grow in a wide range of habitats, including extreme environments such as

hydrothermal areas of the ocean.[47]

Widespread white fungus in wood chip mulch in an Oklahoma garden[48]

As of 2020, around 148,000 species of fungi have been described by taxonomists,[7] but the global biodiversity of the fungus kingdom is not fully understood.[49] A 2017 estimate suggests there may be between 2.2 and 3.8 million species.[6] The number of new fungi species discovered yearly has increased from 1,000 to 1,500 per year about 10 years ago, to about 2,000 with a peak of more than 2,500 species in 2016. In the year 2019, 1,882 new species of fungi were described, and it was estimated that more than 90% of fungi remain unknown.[7] The following year, 2,905 new species were described—the highest annual record of new fungus names.[50] In mycology, species have historically been distinguished by a variety of methods and concepts. Classification based on morphological characteristics, such as the size and shape of spores or fruiting structures, has traditionally dominated fungal taxonomy.[51] Species may also be distinguished by their biochemical and physiological characteristics, such as their ability to metabolize certain biochemicals, or their reaction to chemical tests. The biological species concept discriminates species based on their ability to mate. The application of molecular tools, such as DNA sequencing and phylogenetic analysis, to study diversity has greatly enhanced the resolution and added robustness to estimates of genetic diversity within various taxonomic groups.[52]


In 1729, Pier Antonio Micheli first published descriptions of fungi.

phytopathology, the study of plant diseases, is closely related because many plant pathogens are fungi.[53]

The use of fungi by humans dates back to prehistory;

Piptoporus betulinus).[54] Ancient peoples have used fungi as food sources—often unknowingly—for millennia, in the preparation of leavened bread and fermented juices. Some of the oldest written records contain references to the destruction of crops that were probably caused by pathogenic fungi.[55]


Mycology became a systematic science after the development of the

Louis René and Charles Tulasne, Arthur H. R. Buller, Curtis G. Lloyd, and Pier Andrea Saccardo. In the 20th and 21st centuries, advances in biochemistry, genetics, molecular biology, biotechnology, DNA sequencing and phylogenetic analysis has provided new insights into fungal relationships and biodiversity, and has challenged traditional morphology-based groupings in fungal taxonomy.[58]


Microscopic structures

Most fungi grow as

coenocytic. Septate hyphae are divided into compartments separated by cross walls (internal cell walls, called septa, that are formed at right angles to the cell wall giving the hypha its shape), with each compartment containing one or more nuclei; coenocytic hyphae are not compartmentalized.[60] Septa have pores that allow cytoplasm, organelles, and sometimes nuclei to pass through; an example is the dolipore septum in fungi of the phylum Basidiomycota.[61] Coenocytic hyphae are in essence multinucleate supercells.[62]

Many species have developed specialized hyphal structures for nutrient uptake from living hosts; examples include

haustoria in plant-parasitic species of most fungal phyla,[63] and arbuscules of several mycorrhizal fungi, which penetrate into the host cells to consume nutrients.[64]

Although fungi are

chytrids have lost their posterior flagella.[65] Fungi are unusual among the eukaryotes in having a cell wall that, in addition to glucans (e.g., β-1,3-glucan) and other typical components, also contains the biopolymer chitin.[37]

Macroscopic structures

Armillaria solidipes

Fungal mycelia can become visible to the naked eye, for example, on various surfaces and

Armillaria solidipes, which extends over an area of more than 900 ha (3.5 square miles), with an estimated age of nearly 9,000 years.[67]


apothecium—a specialized structure important in sexual reproduction in the ascomycetes—is a cup-shaped fruit body that is often macroscopic and holds the hymenium, a layer of tissue containing the spore-bearing cells.[68] The fruit bodies of the basidiomycetes (basidiocarps) and some ascomycetes can sometimes grow very large, and many are well known as mushrooms

Growth and physiology

Mold growth covering a decaying peach
. The frames were taken approximately 12 hours apart over a period of six days.

The growth of fungi as hyphae on or in solid substrates or as single cells in aquatic environments is adapted for the efficient extraction of nutrients, because these growth forms have high

Paecilomyces lilacinus uses a similar structure to penetrate the eggs of nematodes.[72]

The mechanical pressure exerted by the appressorium is generated from physiological processes that increase intracellular

multicellular structures consisting of somatic and reproductive cells—a feature independently evolved in animals and plants[80]—has several functions, including the development of fruit bodies for dissemination of sexual spores (see above) and biofilms for substrate colonization and intercellular communication.[81]

Fungi are traditionally considered

CO2 fixation via visible light, but instead uses ionizing radiation as a source of energy.[84]


Polyporus squamosus

Fungal reproduction is complex, reflecting the differences in lifestyles and genetic makeup within this diverse kingdom of organisms.

anamorph (asexual reproduction).[86] Environmental conditions trigger genetically determined developmental states that lead to the creation of specialized structures for sexual or asexual reproduction. These structures aid reproduction by efficiently dispersing spores or spore-containing propagules

Asexual reproduction

Deuteromycota comprise all the species that lack an observable sexual cycle.[88] Deuteromycota (alternatively known as Deuteromycetes, conidial fungi, or mitosporic fungi) is not an accepted taxonomic clade and is now taken to mean simply fungi that lack a known sexual stage.[89]

Sexual reproduction

Sexual reproduction with

homothallic species can mate, and sexually reproduce, with any other individual or itself.[93]

Most fungi have both a

phase contrast microscopy

In ascomycetes, dikaryotic hyphae of the

ascospores. After dispersal, the ascospores may germinate and form a new haploid mycelium.[95]

Sexual reproduction in basidiomycetes is similar to that of the ascomycetes. Compatible haploid hyphae fuse to produce a dikaryotic mycelium. However, the dikaryotic phase is more extensive in the basidiomycetes, often also present in the vegetatively growing mycelium. A specialized anatomical structure, called a

basidiospores after karyogamy and meiosis.[97] The most commonly known basidiocarps are mushrooms, but they may also take other forms (see Morphology

In fungi formerly classified as

sporangiospores. These sporangiospores allow the fungus to rapidly disperse and germinate into new genetically identical haploid fungal mycelia.[98]

Spore dispersal

The spores of most of the researched species of fungi are transported by wind.

stinkhorns, a group of fungi with lively colors and putrid odor that attract insects to disperse their spores.[109]



Other sexual processes

Besides regular sexual reproduction with meiosis, certain fungi, such as those in the genera

parasexual processes, initiated by anastomosis between hyphae and plasmogamy of fungal cells.[114] The frequency and relative importance of parasexual events is unclear and may be lower than other sexual processes. It is known to play a role in intraspecific hybridization[115] and is likely required for hybridization between species, which has been associated with major events in fungal evolution.[116]


In contrast to

scanning electron microscopy to examine surface details.[119]

Prototaxites milwaukeensis (Penhallow, 1908)—a Middle Devonian fungus from Wisconsin

The earliest fossils possessing features typical of fungi date to the

saprobism, and the development of mutualistic relationships such as mycorrhiza and lichenization.[124] Studies suggest that the ancestral ecological state of the Ascomycota was saprobism, and that independent lichenization events have occurred multiple times.[125]

In May 2019, scientists reported the discovery of a fossilized fungus, named Ourasphaira giraldae, in the Canadian Arctic, that may have grown on land a billion years ago, well before plants were living on land.[126][127][128] Pyritized fungus-like microfossils preserved in the basal Ediacaran Doushantuo Formation (~635 Ma) have been reported in South China.[129] Earlier, it had been presumed that the fungi colonized the land during the Cambrian (542–488.3 Ma), also long before land plants.[130] Fossilized hyphae and spores recovered from the Ordovician of Wisconsin (460 Ma) resemble modern-day Glomerales, and existed at a time when the land flora likely consisted of only non-vascular bryophyte-like plants.[131] Prototaxites, which was probably a fungus or lichen, would have been the tallest organism of the late Silurian and early Devonian. Fungal fossils do not become common and uncontroversial until the early Devonian (416–359.2 Ma), when they occur abundantly in the Rhynie chert, mostly as Zygomycota and Chytridiomycota.[130][132][133] At about this same time, approximately 400 Ma, the Ascomycota and Basidiomycota diverged,[134] and all modern classes of fungi were present by the Late Carboniferous (Pennsylvanian, 318.1–299 Ma).[135]

Lichens formed a component of the early terrestrial ecosystems, and the estimated age of the oldest terrestrial lichen fossil is 415 Ma;

Archaeomarasmius leggetti) appeared during the late Cretaceous, 90 Ma.[139][140]

Some time after the

fossil record for this period.[141] However, the relative proportion of fungal spores relative to spores formed by algal species is difficult to assess,[142] the spike did not appear worldwide,[143][144] and in many places it did not fall on the Permian–Triassic boundary.[145]

Sixty-five million years ago, immediately after the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event that famously killed off most dinosaurs, there was a dramatic increase in evidence of fungi; apparently the death of most plant and animal species led to a huge fungal bloom like "a massive compost heap".[146]


Although commonly included in botany curricula and textbooks, fungi are more closely related to

monophyletic origin of fungi.[52][148] The taxonomy of fungi is in a state of constant flux, especially due to research based on DNA comparisons. These current phylogenetic analyses often overturn classifications based on older and sometimes less discriminative methods based on morphological features and biological species concepts obtained from experimental matings.[149]

There is no unique generally accepted system at the higher taxonomic levels and there are frequent name changes at every level, from species upwards. Efforts among researchers are now underway to establish and encourage usage of a unified and more consistent

International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi and plants, fungal species could also have multiple scientific names depending on their life cycle and mode (sexual or asexual) of reproduction.[151] Web sites such as Index Fungorum and MycoBank are officially recognized nomenclatural repositories and list current names of fungal species (with cross-references to older synonyms).[152]

The 2007 classification of Kingdom Fungi is the result of a large-scale collaborative research effort involving dozens of mycologists and other scientists working on fungal taxonomy.
























Taxonomic groups

Main groups of fungi

The major phyla (sometimes called divisions) of fungi have been classified mainly on the basis of characteristics of their sexual reproductive structures. As of 2019, nine major lineages have been identified: Opisthosporidia, Chytridiomycota, Neocallimastigomycota, Blastocladiomycota, Zoopagomycotina, Mucoromycota, Glomeromycota, Ascomycota and Basidiomycota.[156]

Phylogenetic analysis has demonstrated that the Microsporidia, unicellular parasites of animals and protists, are fairly recent and highly derived endobiotic fungi (living within the tissue of another species).[123] Previously considered to be "primitive" protozoa, they are now thought to be either a basal branch of the Fungi, or a sister group–each other's closest evolutionary relative.[157]


rRNA sequences in ribosomes, suggest that the Chytrids are a basal group divergent from the other fungal phyla, consisting of four major clades with suggestive evidence for paraphyly or possibly polyphyly.[158]

The Blastocladiomycota were previously considered a taxonomic clade within the Chytridiomycota. Molecular data and ultrastructural characteristics, however, place the Blastocladiomycota as a sister clade to the Zygomycota, Glomeromycota, and Dikarya (Ascomycota and Basidiomycota). The blastocladiomycetes are saprotrophs, feeding on decomposing organic matter, and they are parasites of all eukaryotic groups. Unlike their close relatives, the chytrids, most of which exhibit zygotic meiosis, the blastocladiomycetes undergo sporic meiosis.[123]


mitochondria but contain hydrogenosomes of mitochondrial origin. As in the related chrytrids, neocallimastigomycetes form zoospores that are posteriorly uniflagellate or polyflagellate.[52]

Microscopic view of a layer of translucent grayish cells, some containing small dark-color spheres
Arbuscular mycorrhiza seen under microscope. Flax root cortical cells containing paired arbuscules.
(the typical cup-like reproductive structure of Ascomycetes) showing sterile tissues as well as developing and mature asci.

Members of the

Entomophthoromycotina.[52] Some well-known examples of fungi formerly in the Zygomycota include black bread mold (Rhizopus stolonifer), and Pilobolus species, capable of ejecting spores several meters through the air.[162] Medically relevant genera include Mucor, Rhizomucor, and Rhizopus.[163]


teleomorphs in the Ascomycota.[164] Because the products of meiosis are retained within the sac-like ascus, ascomycetes have been used for elucidating principles of genetics and heredity (e.g., Neurospora crassa).[165]

Members of the

Ustilago maydis,[166] human commensal species of the genus Malassezia,[167] and the opportunistic human pathogen, Cryptococcus neoformans.[168]

Fungus-like organisms

Because of similarities in morphology and lifestyle, the

ambiregnal, duplicated taxonomy.[169]

Unlike true fungi, the

taxonomists no longer group them in the kingdom Fungi. Nonetheless, studies of the oomycetes and myxomycetes are still often included in mycology textbooks and primary research literature.[170]


Alveolata, was considered a chytrid. The bacteria
were also included in fungi in some classifications, as the group Schizomycetes.

The Rozellida clade, including the "ex-chytrid" Rozella, is a genetically disparate group known mostly from environmental DNA sequences that is a sister group to fungi.[156] Members of the group that have been isolated lack the chitinous cell wall that is characteristic of fungi. Alternatively, Rozella can be classified as a basal fungal group.[148]


nucleariids may be the next sister group to the eumycete clade, and as such could be included in an expanded fungal kingdom.[147]
Many Actinomycetales (Actinomycetota), a group with many filamentous bacteria, were also long believed to be fungi.[171][172]


A pin mold decomposing a peach

Although often inconspicuous, fungi occur in every environment on

symbionts, degrading organic matter to inorganic molecules, which can then re-enter anabolic metabolic pathways in plants or other organisms.[174][175]


Many fungi have important

commensal fungi are of no apparent benefit or detriment to the host.[179][180][181]

With plants

plants and fungi is one of the most well-known plant–fungus associations and is of significant importance for plant growth and persistence in many ecosystems; over 90% of all plant species engage in mycorrhizal relationships with fungi and are dependent upon this relationship for survival.[182]

tall fescue
leaf sheath tissue

The mycorrhizal symbiosis is ancient, dating back to at least 400 million years.[160] It often increases the plant's uptake of inorganic compounds, such as nitrate and phosphate from soils having low concentrations of these key plant nutrients.[174][183] The fungal partners may also mediate plant-to-plant transfer of carbohydrates and other nutrients.[184] Such mycorrhizal communities are called "common mycorrhizal networks".[185][186] A special case of mycorrhiza is myco-heterotrophy, whereby the plant parasitizes the fungus, obtaining all of its nutrients from its fungal symbiont.[187] Some fungal species inhabit the tissues inside roots, stems, and leaves, in which case they are called endophytes.[188] Similar to mycorrhiza, endophytic colonization by fungi may benefit both symbionts; for example, endophytes of grasses impart to their host increased resistance to herbivores and other environmental stresses and receive food and shelter from the plant in return.[189]

With algae and cyanobacteria

A green, leaf-like structure attached to a tree, with a pattern of ridges and depression on the bottom surface
The lichen Lobaria pulmonaria, a symbiosis of fungal, algal, and cyanobacterial species

organic carbon by photosynthesis, slow growth, small size, long life, long-lasting (seasonal) vegetative reproductive structures, mineral nutrition obtained largely from airborne sources, and greater tolerance of desiccation than most other photosynthetic organisms in the same habitat.[196]

With insects

Many insects also engage in

As pathogens and parasites

barberry shrub in Chile.
Gram stain of Candida albicans from a vaginal swab from a woman with candidiasis, showing hyphae, and chlamydospores, which are 2–4 µm
in diameter.

Many fungi are

Paecilomyces lilacinus, are predators of nematodes, which they capture using an array of specialized structures such as constricting rings or adhesive nets.[210] Many fungi that are plant pathogens, such as Magnaporthe oryzae, can switch from being biotrophic (parasitic on living plants) to being necrotrophic (feeding on the dead tissues of plants they have killed).[211] This same principle is applied to fungi-feeding parasites, including Asterotremella albida, which feeds on the fruit bodies of other fungi both while they are living and after they are dead.[212]

Some fungi can cause serious diseases in humans, several of which may be fatal if untreated. These include

allergies, and fungi from different taxonomic groups can evoke allergic reactions.[218]

As targets of mycoparasites

Organisms that parasitize fungi are known as

biocontrol agents against plant fungal diseases.[219] Fungi can also act as mycoparasites or antagonists of other fungi, such as Hypomyces chrysospermus, which grows on bolete
mushrooms. Fungi can also become the target of infection by mycoviruses.[220][221]


There appears to be electrical communication between fungi in word-like components according to spiking characteristics.[222]

Possible impact on climate

According to a study published in the academic journal Current Biology, fungi can soak from the atmosphere around 36% of global fossil fuel greenhouse gas emissions.[223][224]


Claviceps species, which if ingested can cause gangrene, convulsions, and hallucinations

Many fungi produce

carcinogenic metabolites produced by certain Aspergillus species often growing in or on grains and nuts consumed by humans, ochratoxins, patulin, and trichothecenes (e.g., T-2 mycotoxin) and fumonisins, which have significant impact on human food supplies or animal livestock.[226]

Mycotoxins are secondary metabolites (or natural products), and research has established the existence of biochemical pathways solely for the purpose of producing mycotoxins and other natural products in fungi.[39] Mycotoxins may provide fitness benefits in terms of physiological adaptation, competition with other microbes and fungi, and protection from consumption (fungivory).[227][228] Many fungal secondary metabolites (or derivatives) are used medically, as described under Human use below.

Pathogenic mechanisms

oxidative burst where the plant produces reactive oxygen species at the site of the attempted invasion. U. maydis can respond to the oxidative burst with an oxidative stress response, regulated by the gene YAP1. The response protects U. maydis from the host defense, and is necessary for the pathogen's virulence.[229] Furthermore, U. maydis has a well-established recombinational DNA repair system which acts during mitosis and meiosis.[230] The system may assist the pathogen in surviving DNA damage arising from the host plant's oxidative defensive response to infection.[231]

DMC1, which is a conserved homologue of genes recA in bacteria and RAD51 in eukaryotes, that mediates homologous chromosome pairing during meiosis and repair of DNA double-strand breaks. Thus, C. neoformans can undergo a meiosis, monokaryotic fruiting, that promotes recombinational repair in the oxidative, DNA damaging environment of the host macrophage, and the repair capability may contribute to its virulence.[231][233]

Human use

Microscopic view of five spherical structures; one of the spheres is considerably smaller than the rest and attached to one of the larger spheres
Saccharomyces cerevisiae cells shown with DIC microscopy

The human use of fungi for food preparation or preservation and other purposes is extensive and has a long history.

meat substitution and general fungal biotechnology.[237][238][239][240][241]

Therapeutic uses

Modern chemotherapeutics

Many species produce metabolites that are major sources of pharmacologically active drugs.


Particularly important are the antibiotics, including the

rhizosphere, and at low concentrations as quorum-sensing molecules for intra- or interspecies signaling.[245]


Other drugs produced by fungi include

β-lactam antibiotics, are routinely used in clinical medicine. The shiitake mushroom is a source of lentinan, a clinical drug approved for use in cancer treatments in several countries, including Japan.[252][253] In Europe and Japan, polysaccharide-K (brand name Krestin), a chemical derived from Trametes versicolor, is an approved adjuvant for cancer therapy.[254]

Traditional medicine

Upper surface view of a kidney-shaped fungus, brownish-red with a lighter yellow-brown margin, and a somewhat varnished or shiny appearance
Two dried yellow-orange caterpillars, one with a curly grayish fungus growing out of one of its ends. The grayish fungus is roughly equal to or slightly greater in length than the caterpillar, and tapers in thickness to a narrow end.
The fungi Ganoderma lucidum (left) and Ophiocordyceps sinensis (right) are used in traditional medicine practices

Certain mushrooms are used as supposed therapeutics in folk medicine practices, such as traditional Chinese medicine. Mushrooms with a history of such use include Agaricus subrufescens,[251][255] Ganoderma lucidum,[256] and Ophiocordyceps sinensis.[257]

Cultured foods

meat substitute, is made from Fusarium venenatum.[263]

In food

A selection of edible mushrooms eaten in Asia

enokitake (Flammulina spp.).[264]

A corner of cheese with greenish streaks through it
Stilton cheese veined with Penicillium roqueforti

Many other mushroom species are

truffles, black trumpets, and porcini mushrooms (Boletus edulis) (also known as king boletes) demand a high price on the market. They are often used in gourmet dishes.[265]

Certain types of cheeses require inoculation of milk curds with fungal species that impart a unique flavor and texture to the cheese. Examples include the blue color in cheeses such as Stilton or Roquefort, which are made by inoculation with Penicillium roqueforti.[266] Molds used in cheese production are non-toxic and are thus safe for human consumption; however, mycotoxins (e.g., aflatoxins, roquefortine C, patulin, or others) may accumulate because of growth of other fungi during cheese ripening or storage.[267]

Poisonous fungi

Two light yellow-green mushrooms with stems and caps, one smaller and still in the ground, the larger one pulled out and laid beside the other to show its bulbous stem with a ring
Amanita phalloides accounts for the majority of fatal mushroom poisonings worldwide. It sometimes lacks the greenish color seen here.

Many mushroom species are

hallucinogenic properties. Historically, fly agaric was used by different peoples in Europe and Asia and its present usage for religious or shamanic purposes is reported from some ethnic groups such as the Koryak people of northeastern Siberia.[272]

As it is difficult to accurately identify a safe mushroom without proper training and knowledge, it is often advised to assume that a wild mushroom is poisonous and not to consume it.[273][274]

Pest control

Two dead grasshoppers with a whitish fuzz growing on them
Grasshoppers killed by Beauveria bassiana

In agriculture, fungi may be useful if they actively compete for nutrients and space with

herbivory, but several endophyte alkaloids can poison grazing animals, such as cattle and sheep.[280] Infecting cultivars of pasture or forage grasses with Epichloë endophytes is one approach being used in grass breeding programs; the fungal strains are selected for producing only alkaloids that increase resistance to herbivores such as insects, while being non-toxic to livestock.[281][282]


Certain fungi, in particular

white-rot fungi, can degrade insecticides, herbicides, pentachlorophenol, creosote, coal tars, and heavy fuels and turn them into carbon dioxide, water, and basic elements.[283] Fungi have been shown to biomineralize uranium oxides, suggesting they may have application in the bioremediation of radioactively polluted sites.[284][285][286]

Model organisms

Several pivotal discoveries in biology were made by researchers using fungi as

Pichia pastoris, a yeast widely used for eukaryotic protein production.[290]


Fungi are used extensively to produce industrial chemicals like

See also



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  2. ^ /ˈfʌn/ , /ˈfʌŋɡ/ , /ˈfʌŋɡi/ or /ˈfʌni/ . The first two pronunciations are favored more in the US and the others in the UK, however all pronunciations can be heard in any English-speaking country.
  3. ^ "Fungus". Oxford Dictionaries. Archived from the original on 28 July 2012. Retrieved 26 February 2011.
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  12. ^ Alexopoulos, Mims & Blackwell 1996, p. 1.
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  14. ^ Greville RK (1824). Scottish Cryptogamie Flora: Or Coloured Figures and Descriptions of Cryptogamic Plants, Belonging Chiefly to the Order Fungi. Vol. 2. Edinburgh, Scotland: Maclachland and Stewart. p. 65. From p. 65: "This little plant will probably not prove rare in Great Britain, when mycology shall be more studied."
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  18. IUCN SSC. 2021. Archived from the original
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  19. ^ "Fifth-Grade Elementary School Students' Conceptions and Misconceptions about the Fungus Kingdom". Retrieved 5 October 2022.
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Cited literature

Further reading

  • Kolbert, Elizabeth, "Spored to Death" (review of Emily Monosson, Blight: Fungi and the Coming Pandemic, Norton, 253 pp.; and Alison Pouliot, Meetings with Remarkable Mushrooms: Forays with Fungi Across Hemispheres, University of Chicago Press, 278 pp.), The New York Review of Books, vol. LXX, no.14 (21 September 2023), pp. 41–42. "Fungi sicken us and fungi sustain us. In either case, we ignore them at our peril." (p. 42.)

External links