What is a fungus?

Fungi are eukaryotic micro-organisms. In taxonomy, they form their own realm: the Fungi. This realm contains enormous diversity, although little is known about the number of species of fungi. Estimates range from 1.5 million to 5 million species. Of these, only about 5% have been classified.

Networkers and loners

Most fungi form fungal threads called hyphae. A lot of these hyphae together form a network, the mycelium. From the mycelium, reproductive structures can grow. These can be either relatively simple or complex, like a mushroom. Besides these networks, you also have fungi that grow as single-celled organisms, such as yeasts.


Apples and mushrooms

A mushroom is also called the fruit body of a fungus. This is because it allows spores to form and spread. A mushroom is similar to an apple spreading the seeds of the tree. Certain mushrooms, such as the shiitake and oyster mushroom, are edible like most fruits.

Flavourful fungi

Fungi play an important role in our lives. They live on and in our bodies. As many as 150 species on your feet alone.We also use fungi in food and drink production. A well-known yeast is baker’s yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae), also known as wine or brewer’s yeast. It is, as its name suggests, essential in the process of baking bread and brewing beer. 

When making various types of cheese, the fungus Penicillium roqueforti is crucial.

Better together

92% of plant families cooperate with a fungus. Both the plant and the fungus benefit from this relationship. In the soil, the fungi form an external root network with which they collect nutrients and water the plant cannot reach by itself. The plants, in turn, supply sugars (products of photosynthesis) to the fungi.

The mycelium can cover a huge surface area, greatly extending the plant's range.