Have you ever noticed that when the bread you had bought a few days ago, becomes stale, it has this green, black or white thing developed on it? Along with the stale appearance, the odour confirms that the bread is not edible anymore.

The thing you noticed on the bread, is fungi. These are living microorganisms, which cannot be seen with naked eyes but are visible under a powerful microscope.

Some fungi like yeast, are unicellular microorganisms. Some other fungi like mushrooms or mold are multicellular, and the many cells grouped together to form long, thread-like structures called hyphae. These hyphae along with obtaining nutrition, help in reproduction. They contain spores, which when released, help in reproduction. Fungi feed through these microscopic threads (hyphae), which are a part of their body. They dig into a food source(bread in this case), and they release chemicals, that break down the food. Then, the fungi digest it and use it as nutrition. These hyphae are together called as mycellium.

Fungi can feed on dead animals, bird droppings, manure, wood, decayed food, almost anything that was once alive. Hence, they fall under the category of decomposers.

WORD OF THE DAY: Decomposers- These are organisms that break down dead or decaying organisms, they carry out decomposition, a process possible by only certain kingdoms, such as fungi.

FUN FACT: Fungi makes up one of the fungal kingdoms among the 5 kingdoms, in which all living organisms are divided into !!

So the question that now arises is, are all fungi bad? Certainly not.

  • In fact, some fungi are edible and tasty like mushrooms or truffles. Be super careful and know how to identify different mushrooms, because some of them can be toxic !!
  • There are some types of cheese which have fungi in them, like the Roquefort cheese.
  • There are some fungi which can be harmful to our health, which may cause skin or lung diseases like fungal eye infections, skin rashes etc.
  • There are some fungi produce antibiotic substances which can be used as medicines to fight bacterial infections. One of the most used and known antibiotics is penicillin.

Fungi can be found in the air, water or soil and they can be spread through poor hygiene. So make sure kids that you take a good bath every day and eat healthy food.

Let’s have a quick check for understanding, before coming to an end of this lesson:

Q1. Fungi is a type of plant.

a) True b) False

Q2. All fungi are harmful to your health.

a) True b) False

Q3. Fungi decompose the dead things and help in the decaying process.

a) True b) False

Q4. Where can fungi be found?

a) air b) water c) soil d) all of the above

Q5. Hyphae are ___, ____ structures which help in gaining nutrition to the fungi.

a) small, macroscopic b) thread-like, macroscopic c) thread-like, microscopic d) None of the above


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