Did you say yuchhi or yummi?
brackets, puffballs, moulds, mildews, yeasts, rusts and smuts are all types of
fungi (note: toadstool generally refers to an inedible or poisonous mushroom but
there is no unequivocal definition and the term is best avoided).
plants fungi have no chlorophyll and must get food from organic substances. Some
are parasites existing on living plants, animals, or even other fungi. Many
fungi are saprotrophs, living on dead organic matter such as leaf litter, dung
etc and have an important role in re-cycling. Others form symbiotic associations
with plants (mycorrhizal fungi) or algae (lichens).
· When fungi cause damage to useful materials it is known as biodeterioration.
discovery of penicillin produced by a mould was one of the most crucial medical
developments of the 20th Century.
the most important organisms used in biotechnology
are fungi with applications ranging from the production of industrial enzymes to
clean-up of toxic wastes.
number of known species of fungi is about 69,000 but that in the world has been
conservatively estimated at 1.5 million (Mycological Research, 1991, 95: 641 -
of fungi are disappearing due to loss of habitat faster than mycologists can
study them. More details from the Friends
of the Earth.
individual honey fungus Armillaria bulbosa
is claimed to be the world's largest and oldest living organism - estimated to
be some 1,500 years old and more than 10,000 kg in weight, its underground
network of hyphae occupies 15 hectares (Nature, 1992, 356: 428 - 431).
are quite capable of forcing their way up through asphalt and lifting paving
stones. People have been using fungi for purposes other than food for thousands
of years. Tinder material prepared from the bracket fungus, Fomes
fomentarius, and pieces of the polypore, Piptoporus
betulinus, were found with the frozen remains of a Neolithic man discovered
in an alpine glacier in 1991. The remains have been dated to between 3350 and
3100 BC (Mycological Research, 1998, 102: 1153 - 1162).
first started to cultivate fungi in underground gardens around 50 million years
ago. Today, leafcutter ants remove more of the vegetation in a tropical American
rainforest than any other group of animals, including mammals. Their fungal
partners break down cellulose providing the ants with a predigested source of
food (New Scientist supplement, 6 March 1999).
Copyright © 1996-2000: Paul F Hamlyn / NWFG
of the Mycoses: Infections caused by fungi
Hair, Nail and Skin disease