Fungi

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Fungi are one of the least known about organisms on earth, only 5% of the 2.2-2.8 million species have been discovered by mycologists (scientists who study fungi). Interestingly fungi are more closely related to animals than plants, and they can have many forms from microscopic spores to giant bracket fungi that can be 5 meters across. Fungi are critical to so many aspects of our lives and are all around us. We need them to breakdown and help decay plant waste, help us fight infection, make alcohol, and make many foods. There are eight known branches of fungi; Cryptomycota, Microsporidia, Blastocladiomycota, Chytridiomycota, Zoopagomycota, Mucoromycota, Ascomycota, Basidiomycota. Zoopagomycota is pathogens and parasites, living in or on animals and other fungi without harming them, whereas Mucoromycota forms associations with plants. Ascomycota and Basidiomycota contain most known fungal species – around 140,000 in total and are the more familiar form of fungi, including mushrooms, yeasts, and fungi that associate with algae to form lichen. Many fungi can produce sexually and asexually depending on the climate and situation. I am interested in what fungi does to help the ecosystems around it, and the different things they could still offer.

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