Introduction: Fungi are a very diverse and interesting group of organisms. They are actually more closely related to humans than they are to plants. This is because of how they obtain their energy. They are consumers that decompose dead organisms. They absorb nutrients across their skin. Without fungi, there would be a very thick layer of dead organisms covering the entire surface of the earth.
Answer the practice questions and then watch the video to learn more about this amazing group of creatures.
Fungi are decomposers. This means they break down dead organisms and recycle their nutrients back into the ecosystem. Mushrooms, mold, and liverworts are all examples of fungi. They tend to live in dark, moist places, such as on the forest floor or in the back of the refrigerator.
Fungi are made of hail-like structures called hyphae. These hyphae not only make up an individual fungus, but also can travel for meters and produce others. The next time you are walking through the forest and come across a mushroom growing on a dead log, look around for others. Chances are there will more close by. These organisms are all connected through their hyphae.
Some fungi are beneficial to humans. The antibiotic penicillin is derived from a fungus called Penicillium and blue cheese is made using a fungus to add the taste to it. The yeast used to make bread is also an example of a fungus.
Directions for this Lesson: Answer the practice questions and then watch the video to learn more about fungi.