Posted by: gillarbuthnott | March 24, 2020

Our Microbe Friends #4: Fabulous Fungi

Image result for honey fungusFungi are a strange and wonderful group of organisms. They’re not animals OR plants: they have  a whole Kingdom to themselves. And not all of them are microbes – that’s obvious, if you’ve ever eaten a mushroom: you didn’t need a microscope to find it on your plate. So, what are they?

If you see a mushroom growing in the ground, you are only seeing the reproductive bit of the fungus. The rest is under the soil, and is a huge network of tiny threads. In fact, the biggest organism in the world is a fungus! No, not a giant mushroom, but the underground bit – and it is truly vast.

It’s a honey fungus which lives in Oregon in the USA. It occupies an area of nearly 10 square kilometres, and is probably at least 2,400 years old, so it’s one of the oldest living things on Earth, as well as the biggest.

Lots of fungi are tiny enough to count as microbes though, and many of them are vital for the decay I wrote about last week. But there’s also one responsible for saving millions of human lives – watch out for the next post!


Responses

  1. Fungi are fab!

    • They certainly are!


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