Fungi are some of the most important things on the planet. Along with bacteria, fungi are nature’s great recyclers. Fungi turn things like cow pats into soil that grows more lush grass for cows to eat. They turn dead plants, trees, animals and waste into good soil by rotting them down. Many fungi grow on living things, sharing and swapping nutrients with their tree or plant partner. These fungi help nearly all trees to grow and all orchids grow with fungi help.
If there were no fungi, plants would die without the healthy soil they need, animals would starve without plants, and we would soon be buried in waste and yucky stuff.
Fungi is used to make loads of the things we eat, mushrooms of course are a type of fungi. So is yeast which is used in things like bread and pizza dough. Fungi is also used to make cheeses like Stilton and Brie, soy sauce, tofu, wine, beer and chocolate. Imagine a world without chocolate!
Fungi have also saved millions of lives. In 1928, a fungus called penicillin was discovered by Alexander Fleming. It can be used to kill harmful bacteria in humans. Fungi can make us ill too though, ringworm and athlete’s foot are both types of fungal infection.